The Neferhotep stela, revisited: kingship, authority and legitimacy in the Abydos stela of Neferhotep I
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 02:24 authored by Helen Neale
Against the backdrop of the politically tumultuous Thirteenth Dynasty, the reign of Neferhotep I stands out for its length and stability. This stela of Neferhotep gives rare insight into the construction of royal authority and legitimacy, in a time where Egyptian kingship underwent extensive change. Ostensibly, this stela recorded the refashioning of the cult statue of Osiris, the form of which was based upon the king’s own research in the temple archives, as well as his personal participation in the associated festival of Osiris in Abydos. Yet, as an example of the Königsnovelle text type, this inscription also served to demonstrate the singular qualities of the king, his power to act, and his special relationship with the gods. The stela itself has been lost to history, and so for many years, the scholarship of it was hindered by the poor quality of its only drawn record. In light of the publication of a much improved hieroglyphic transcription by Helck, this thesis presents a new philological commentary of this inscription in its entirety, accompanied by a discussion of the ideology of kingship as conveyed in the text. In a time of great change, Neferhotep I drew upon the established religious motifs of Egyptian kingship in order to legitimise his reign and display his authority as king of Egypt.