Ostracon of Prince Sethherkhepshef

The Ostracon of Prince Sethherkhepshef is a painted limestone figured-ostracon of the son of Ramesses III. It is a standing, figured profile of Prince Sethherkhepshef (who later ascended the throne as Ramesses VIII) in an adoration pose, with outstretched arms, a scepter in his left hand, and right hand, palm-forward.

Behind Sethherkhepshef in a standard layout of figures and writing, is a vertical column of hieroglyphs reading “king’s son of his body, his beloved ” with his name (Seth-her-kepesh) appearing at the end.

Ostracon of Prince Sethherkhepshef. Egyptian Museum of Turin. Cat. 5637

Ostracon, the Greek term for potsherd, is used by Egyptologists to refer to sherds of pottery or limestone flakes, which were used as a cheap and readily available material on which write or draw. The text and drawings often consist of letters, bills, personal notes, inventories, sketches and scribal exercises, but also of literary texts, like love poems and wisdom texts.

Egyptian ostraca were used for artist’s sketchings, cartoons-caricatures, letter documents, school–practice writing, and graffiti. This particular ostracon may be a sketch by an artisan working on the prince’s tomb.

From the Tomb (QV43), Valley of the Queens, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum of Turin. Cat. 5637