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""Finely carved central panel in shallow relief, depicting the deceased standing next to a table laden with offerings, he holds a long stemmed lotus flower.

A kneeling supplicant is depicted on the opposite side of the table. Incised, double hieroglyphic register above the figures, a single register below.

Inscription by the heads of each figure. Scene is highlighted in red-brown pigment, and framed by high relief columns with a horizontal lintel, painted with red-brown stripes.

Split down the center with some minor loss along the break line, a few minor edge hair lines, otherwise intact. Root deposits along bottom edge. Contained in an old wood frame""




This interesting discussion took place on the yahoo group mid 2005




Usually discussions here are all about fakes on eBay. This message makes a nice (well, maybe not so nice?) change to that.


In a couple of days a new auction will start at Arte Primitivo. Among their lots is an Egyptian stela (described as "Egyptian Limestone False Door") which they have dated "Middle Kingdom, Ca 18th Dynasty" (sic).


It can be found here:

Click on the small images on the right to see the details.


The text and image on this stela are very crude, but this is not uncommon on stelae of the Intermediate Periods and even the Middle Kingdom. However, even if it is crude it should follow some basic principles of Egyptian art and language. It does not. Therefore, without any doubt, it is a fake.


Here are some reasons for this observation:


Back side:


  • a) clearly this side was smooth at first and was then chiseled to look roughly hewn, so AFTERWARDS, whereas in an authentic piece the opposite should be expected.
  • b) the shape of the chisel marks is odd (not the straight lines from an adze that are to be expected). There is no parallel known for this.


Front side:


  • c) the texts are nonsensical. However, short bits of the text are recognizable. This can only mean that those bits were copied from an authentic text or texts, but that the person who did so put the bits together in the wrong order or, more likely, copied a few signs here and there and just pasted those pieces together. Maybe he was afraid that, if he had copied a whole text, someone would have recognised that text). A few examples of this:
  • c1) The text reads from right to left, but in the second line, extreme left, above the head of the standing person, we have the signs for "smr waty" (a courtly title, usually translated as "sole companion"). However, the signs for this title are badly executed, as if not understood, and, more importantly, the words are in the wrong order (more or less mirrored).
  • c2) The last signs of this second line should have been (no exception to this) the name of the person depicted. As said, they are not.
  • c3) The 4 signs in front of his face try to imitate the offering formula "a thousand loaves of bread, a thousand jars of beer", but the shape, order and positioning of the signs shows that someone has just been copying without knowing what it meant.
  • c4) The signs on the extreme left of the line below the image seem to imitate another courtly title "imy-r aXnwty" ("overseer of the audience chamber", "chamberlain"). However, they do not, they are just copying the shapes of the glyphs that compose this title, in the completely wrong order and, perhaps even more importantly, without understanding what the signs depict: the sign for imy-r (the tongue of an animal - sign F20) is here written as a cobra (sign I10), which is the sign for D, not for imy-r. They may look somewhat alike, but they are quite different.


d) the image is full of impossible things:


  • d1) the circular cakes on the table are copied from stelae which date from the time of Ahmose / Amenhotep I, whereas the rest of the stela tries to imitate a Middle Kingdom stela.
  • d2) the vessels below the table are typical ointment jars, which normally are not depicted there. Instead, jars for beer are to be expected here.
  • d3) the "thing" in front of the standing figure's face (which looks like an old-fashioned lampshade) is probably a misinterpretation of a bunch of onions, which is usually depicted here.
  • d4) it is unthinkable that the person on the right is kneeling before the person on the left. This position of reverence or praying is only done before gods, not before humans.


In short: without any doubt a forgery. I have spoken about this with a friend in the BM and he fully agrees with me. I have also informed Howard Rose, the owner of Arte Primitivo, but did not yet get a reply from him. I do hope he will withdraw the lot

It was withdrawn right away.

As one would have expected from that seller.

But see the next chapter


In any case: I would strongly advise you NOT to bid on this one.






Sorry to disagree but there are many crude steles like this out there that are authentic. The piece is perfectly authentic.




Crude stelae: true, they exist. And even stelae that contain nonsensical texts exist (if the scribe did not know what he was copying).


But stelae that contain grammatically correct bits and pieces in a nonsensical order: impossible.


Besides, this stela is clearly datable (it is based without any doubt on Middle Kingdom examples and therefore can be considered Middle Kingdom-ish itself), but it has many stylistic elements that are wrong for the period and that occurred for the first time in the New Kingdom. There is no way a Middle Kingdom artist could have invented things that would first come into vogue several hundreds years later (and then for a short time ONLY). It is absolutely a fake.






now this is what i know, this is not the first time he has been wrong and adversely affected the result of an auction. he called a terracotta ushabti probably fake i was auctioning on ebay and it brought about 1/10 of my cost from a national auction house. he later apologized......big deal. i lost several hundred bucks. howie has a genuine albeit crude and broken piece and has it correctly valued. i have studied over 200 false doors and have owned several






don't do translation, since many of it made no sense back then. But for as many pieces as I have studied in my life, it looks to be a fine middle kingdom provincial piece, There are many just like this in the Cairo museum, as well as many other museums and private collections. It is perfectly fine, but of not very much importance do its crude carving from that area.





Of course, crude, Middle Kingdom stelae exist. I recently saw a good

example in the Eternal Egypt exhibition which was at the Royal Ontario

Museum. The travelling exhibition was put together with fine pieces

from the British Museum. The piece was an XIth Dynasty Stela of

Inyotef, Son of Ka. The style is provincial, indeed. On the Inyotef

Stela, the glyphs make sense. On the Arte-Primitivo piece, they are

nonsensical. Is there a chance that the diminished artistic standards

of this period spilled into scribes' work as well as scene and

character carvers? Not totally unrealistic, but I don't like the

proportion of the text on the Arte-Primitivo piece. AND, it's got that

notorious "Gibrat" name attached to it, which I've seen so many fakes

possess. I wouldn't but the thing. It looks like a real piece that has

been "thinned" and artificially inscribed. As fake as the James

Ossuary, in my opinion (real box - fake inscription).





Sorry to insist, but I doubt even that. It is not only the text, but alsothe image that is wrong.As said before, too many anachronisms. And one human kneeling beforeanother?If all that is also a later work, the "thinning" must have been verythorough, basically only the stone slab itself would be ancient in thatcase. And even that is unlikely, see the way the back is chiseled.





You need to look at thousands of steles like I have, and you will see all the strange different points on authentic piece you are pointing out.






I think if anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt on this, it's you.

You are, after all, a bona-fide Egyptologist who teaches hieroglyphic.

I'm not sure there's much anyone can really say that would effectively

disqualify what you're saying about the inscription - that's for sure.

And, I agree that the context of the figures (human kneeling before

human) is entirely incorrect. If it were human kneeling before king or

god, that would be different, but that is not the case here, as you've

made quite clear.

However, the relatively recent thinning of the stone would account for

the inaccurate chiselling technique on the reverse, as modern

chiselling would remove any saw marks made by the acquisition of the

piece (I understand that a piece like this would have been carved into

the bedrock, as opposed to being carved ex-situ and placed later,

would it not?) and add a little more credibility to the piece than

steel saw marks would. This thinning may actually be the cause of the


As you can tell, I'm desperately attempting to give any possible crumb

of credibility to the piece possible, as I like Howard Rose and know

him through my own dealings to be an honest and forthright dealer.

I have to agree with Alexander on this. The more I look at

it, the worse it gets.



Tom W


Oh, before I forget:


It is well known that in the Cairo museum are many fakes shown like

this because the originals was sold out to the black market since

many states in the past as originals! So it is not very smart to

study those pieces or there stylistical correctness and forget over

all to have a look at the surfaces and how they have to look.

To spot a fake, forget it to look only at the the style! Good fakes

make no mistakes on the style! When a piece like this have elements

form different periods - ok, this can not be - than you have not to

do any more work, it is a fake. But the only way to find out if it is

real or not, is to look at the material!

There is a reason why we sell not often pieces like this or pieces


The last chapter?


 ""I am offering again this False Door. While it was previously sold, I recieved notification of a possible authenticity problem with the door, and withdrew the sale. While it seems genuine in every way, I have been informed that the heiroglyphs are "repetitive", which is improbable to find on an original item of this kind. I originally thought this was Egyptian Middle Kingdom 18th Dynasty, 1490-1468 BC, with a value of 7-10K, but I am not now assigning any date to the item. I am adding very hi-res pictures, and expect any potential buyer to be knowlegable to judge the item for themselves before bidding. This item is offered with no garuantee of authenticity or age and is non-refundable."


Yes indeed, a false false door!


Forgeries of Egyptian relief carvings 2