Royal Prowess in Ancient Egypt


    No little interest and some amusement has been aroused by the inscribed stela of Amenhotep II discovered at Giza, on which the monarch transcends the customary royal assumption of credit for achievement by an intimate personal touch in his description of his prowess as an oarsman and athlete. The stela, which was found in the course of Prof. Selim Hassan's excavations in the neighbourhood of the Sphinx at Giza (The Times, Nov. 7), records that Amenhotep, when visiting Giza as a young man to pay homage to his ancestors Khufu and Khephren, had rowed a boat for three miles against the stream with an oar twenty ells long without fatigue, while his boatmen were tired after rowing for half a mile. As a horseman and archer he was no less remarkable. He had trained his horses to draw his chariot at a gallop without sweating, and shooting from his chariot he had pierced with an arrow copper targets which were as thick as his hand. The stela upon which is the inscription also bears above a representation of the king making offerings to a figure which is said to be identifiable as the god Ra. It was set up in the second year of Amenhotep's reign (1447 B.C.). The expedition of which Prof. Selim Hassan is in charge is engaged in clearing the whole area adjacent to the Sphinx, and with this purpose in view additional land, at present encumbered with refreshment booths, has been purchased to obviate interference with the work of excavation.

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    Royal Prowess in Ancient Egypt. Nature 138, 837 (1936).

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