The Metternich stela is one of the most remarkable stelae related to magic and medicine in ancient Egypt. The text carved in the stone from the 30th dynasty is a fascinating source of forgotten spells and provides solutions to many health problems – especially those linked to poisoning.
It is known that the Metternich stela was created during the reign of Nectanebo II, the last Egyptian pharaoh, however other details related to the origins of the artifact remain unknown. It is a part of a group of stelae known as ''Cippus of Horus''- a collection of stelae used to protect people from dangers like snake or crocodile attacks. However, this particular stela is one of the largest of its kind. It also has some of the best-preserved magical text from its time.
Cippus of Horus stela. (Public Domain)
A Traveling Stone
It is believed that the priest Esatum traveled to Heliopolis and saw some inscriptions that were very interesting for him. As a person who knew how to write, he copied the texts and ordered they be carved on a huge stone block. When Alexander the Great built the city of Alexandria, this large block of text was also brought to the new capital. It was later found in 1828 at a Franciscan monastery. The stone was then sold to Prince Metternich by the ruler of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha. Following this, it was taken to Kynzvart Castle in Bohemia, where it remained for the next few decades. But by 1950 it was sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
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