Shabaka Stone

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File:The Shabaka Stone.JPG
Shabaka Stone on display in The British Museum.
(0.66 m tall by 1.37 m wide, not high resolution)

The Shabaka Stone, sometimes Shabaqo, is a relic from the Nubian Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt incised with an Egyptian religious text.[1] It is a composition of breccia measuring 91 cm on the left in height and 95 cm on the right as well as 137 cm in width.[2] The text claims to contain the surviving content of a worm-ridden, decaying papyrus that was found as pharaoh Shabaka was inspecting the temple of Ptah in Memphis, Egypt. In later years, the stone is believed to have been used as a millstone damaging the hieroglyphics. This damage is accompanied by other intentional defacements, leaving the hieroglyphics in poor condition.

It was once placed within the Temple of Ptah in Memphis in the 8th century BCE. It was removed at an unknown date. In 1805, the stone was a donation by George John, 2nd earl of Spencer, to the British Museum where it has been located since. It is known that prior to coming to England it was in Alexandria, but how it got there or when is unknown.[2]

Since this stone was meant to be a preservation of an older text, the question regarding the dating of the original work has been sought after. Attempts to attribute a definite date for the original text have been inconclusive. Some scholars claimed it originated in the Old Kingdom while others said it went further back. Today, scholars feel it is clear that it cannot predate the Nineteenth Dynasty.[3]


The text includes two main divisions with a short introduction and an ending summary. The first division relates the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. Ptah works through Horus to accomplish this unification. The other is a creation story that establishes Ptah as the creator of all things, including gods.

Ptah also centers in all things such as the heart and tongue of his creations, and thus, in a sense, making him the center of existence. The manner of creation came by Ptah's thoughts in his heart that were then uttered by his tongue. This creation story is sometimes referred to as a Memphite Theology.


  1. The Shabako Stone, British Museum
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Shabako Stone: An Introduction, p. 6-8. BYU Studia Antiqua
  3. Van De Mierroop, Marc (2011). A history of Ancient Egypt. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing. p. 303. ISBN 978-1-4051-6070-4

External links