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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

An unusual souvenir?

Is this a rare souvenir? Or is it an attempt to deliberately deceive? 

This artefact is made from pottery and shows the prenomen of Rameses II. It is on display in the Egypt Centre. It was purchased at auction by Wellcome in 1934.

Such objects are often mistaken for the bases of funerary cones, however they are an early form of copy. It would be unlikely to simply have the base of a cone surviving. 

You can see that this has a cartouche of a king’s name. One of the things that makes it even more certain that they are fakes is that kings did not have funerary cones. Most, unlike ours, bear the cartouche of Ramesses III. So ours is a bit unusual.

Cyril Aldred (1957) recognised these as forgeries based on funerary cones. He quotes an 1884 letter from Charles Edwin Wilbour which says ‘I visited the woman Giudeeyeh, who showed me the (modern) stamp from which she moulds and bakes the round brick stamps of Rameses III, that are always offered to you in his temple at Medinet Haboo. She lives north of Yussuf and I encouraged her industry; it saves monuments from destruction.’

Apparently, such items also turn up today on ebay.

With thanks to Tom Hardwick for drawing our attention to ours.


Aldred, C. 1957. ‘The Funerary Cones’ of Ramesses III’. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 43, 113.

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