a high palace official, at the end of the twelfth dynasty during the reigns of Senwosret III and Amenemhet III. The autobiographical section of Ikhernofret's commemorative stela erected at Abydos (now in the Berlin Museum) tells us that he grew up and studied at the royal palace and eventually acquired important administrative responsibilities that culminated in his being promoted to “Overseer of the Seal,” or chief treasurer.

The text of of his stela recounts Ikhernofret's activities at Abydos, where he was sent by King Senwosret III to refurbish the cult statue of the god Osiris, the shrine that housed the statue, and the bark that carried them. While at Abydos, Ikhernofret took the opportunity to participate in the festival of Osiris, personally “leading the great procession” and “following the god in his footsteps.” From this text, one gets the impression that an actual mock battle was staged, with some festival participants acting as followers of Osiris and others playing enemies of the god. Although brief, Ikhernofret's account is one of the few narratives of such a festival from pharaonic Egypt.

Ikhernofret is also important because of the number of commemorative stelae left in his chapel at the pilgrimage site of Abydos. The main monument in the chapel was the previously mentioned stela, which contained a representation of the king and the god Osiris, as well as the autobiographical account. Also included in the chapel were stelae belonging to some of his working acquaintances and subordinates, from fellow administrators to members of the priesthoods of Abydos. These stelae mention Ikhernofret either generally, as part of the formulaic prayers usually encountered on such monuments, or specifically, as protector or patron. In Ikhernofret as patron, we see a true act of piety in which one man, whose stela at Abydos assured him spiritual participation in the sacred rites there, wished to have close friends share in one of the most important religious acts of their time.

Bibliography

  • Leprohon, Ronald J. “The Personnel of the Middle Kingdom Funerary Stelae.” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 15 (1978), 33–38. A prosopography of the individuals found on Middle Kingdom commemorative stelae.
  • Lichtheim, Miriam. Ancient Egyptian Literature; A Book of Readings. Vol. I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms. Berkeley, 1973. pp. 123–125. Contains a description and translation of Ikhernofret's stela.
  • Simpson, William Kelly. The Terrace of the Great God at Abydos: The Offering Chapels of Dynasties 12 and 13. New Haven, 1974. A seminal study of the groups of commemorative stelae found in chapels at Abydos.

Ronald J. Leprohon