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Stela of the Sculptor Qen worshipping Amenhotep I and Ahmose-Nefertari

Updated: Apr 8, 2023

One of the select "servants in the Place of Truth," Qen was a member of the community of arts and craftsmen responsible for building and decorating the tombs of the New Kingdom pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings. This stela was found in 1862 in Qen's tomb at the workmen's village of Deir el-Medina. Qen's titles, as recorded on the stela, were "sculptor of Amun in the Place of Truth" and "sculptor of Amun in Karnak" suggesting that he specialized in carving relief.

In the lower register of the stela, Qen, his wife Nefertari, and their two sons, Merymery and Huy, are shown paying homage to the two seated figures above. These represent Amenhotep I, second king of Dynasty 18, and his mother Ahmose-Nefertari. By Dynasty 19, these two deified members of the royal family had become patrons of the Theban necropolis and especially of the workmen and their families.


Ahmose Nefertari

Ahmose Nefertari is thought to be the daughter of Queen Ahhotep, sister and wife of King Ahmose I, mother of king Amenhotep I, and the grandmother of Tuthmosis I. She was influential during the reign of her husband and ruled as co-regent with her son Amenhotep I and her grandson Thuthmosis. Tuthmosis I placed her statue in the temple at Karnak to honour her, and her mortuary cult was observed long after her death.

She is almost always depicted with very dark skin. Some commentators have suggested that this is a sign of her Nubian ancestry, which could very well be the case, but it is equally likely that it was a symbol of her fertility and a reference to her position as the mother of Egypt (also known as Kemet, “the black land”), as the colour black was associated with rebirth, fertility, death, and Egypt itself. The god Amun was also depicted with black skin. She generally wears the vulture headdress of Nekhbet.

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