“In the stela of Sebek-khu the ManchesterMuseum possesses one of the most important historical documents ever found in Egypt.” So wrote Thomas Eric Peet*, over a hundred years ago, about this rather crudely executed, 28cm-high limestone stela (Acc. No. 3306). It was discovered at the site of Abydos by John Garstang in 1901, excavating for the Egyptian Research Account. It once stood among a mass of such private monuments on the ‘Terrace of the Great God’ at Abydos, a site sacred to the god Osiris, and enabled the owner – as the inscription makes clear – to enjoy the smell of incense from rituals conducted for Osiris nearby.
Yet this document is unique because it gives an insight into a soldier’s life during the mid-Twelfth Dynasty (c. 1880-1800 BC). The text is difficult in parts due to the legibility of signs. The main part of the text reads:
An offering which the king gives to Osiris, Lord of Abydos [that he may give an invocation offering of bread and beer], oxen and fowl, linen and clothing, incense and oil, every good and pure thing for the Ka-spirit of the member of the elite, governor, who says good things, repeated what was desired during the course of every day, great district official of the town, Khu-Sobek whose good name is Djaa, born of Ita of the district of Tefnut, possessor of honour […]
His Majesty went downstream to overthrow the Bedouins of Asia. His Majest