Stele of Min, Aperetset and Kolanthes - ROM2018_16141_53


Stele of Min, Aperetset and Kolanthes

Geography: Akhmim, Egypt
Date: c. 332 BC-642 AD
Period: Ptolomaic to Roman Period
32.8 × 27.5 × 4 cm
Object number: 958.221.3
Credit Line: From the Estate of the late Dr. Kate McLaren
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

This stele from Akhmim was never finished.  Blank spaces show where inscriptions were to go. The images, however, clearly identify the gods depicted.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to identify the Roman emperor or Ptolemaic king, on the right, who is offering to them.

This stele honours the god Min, whom the Greek and Romans identified with Pan. His role in assuring male potency and fertility made him popular with non-Egyptians as well as Egyptians. He had been one of the oldest identifiable Egyptian gods, and his centre of worship at Akhmim (Khent-Min in Ancient Egyptian) remained vital well into the Roman period. Min himself was worshipped on the East side of the Nile; his consort, a form of the goddess Isis known as Aperetset, had her shrines on the West.  In this image she wears the bovine horns of Hathor, associating her with Isis, the Mother of the God, and Hathor, the goddess of love, beauty, music and joy. In addition to her horns, she wears a vulture crown, and carries an ankh.

Between Aperetset and Min is a small object which is assumed to be a replica of Min's earliest shrines.  Since several gods can appear cheerfully ithyphallic, and the crown can be shared by Amun, this shrine is often the way to identify a depiction of a god as Min. Min's raised arm (which we know from statues to have been held at his right side rather than behind him) is draped with a flail.  This was interpreted by the Ancient Egyptians as an arm held ready to defend against invaders from the Eastern Desert.

Kolanthes, a small child, stands on an offering table between Min and the ruler. The child wears the same crown as Min, and, though otherwise naked, has a cloak over his shoulders.  This child can be identified as a form of Horus, the son of Isis.  Like all child gods, he promises renewal, legitimate succession and prosperity. Child gods were particularly popular in the late Ptolemaic and Roman periods.  Many men named after Kolanthes appear in records of the Roman period.

The Ruler at far right is either a Ptolemaic king or a Roman emperor, probably the latter.  Although few Roman emperors visited Egypt, they did support Egyptian religion and temple cult to some extent to maintain law and order.

In the lunette at the top of the stele, wings arise on both sides of the disk of the sun.  The royal uraei - protective goddesses in the form of snakes - descend from the disk.  This image represents Horus of the Behedite, the active deity who assures justice.

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