This is a long, tapering funerary cone, made of clay. The circular short end contains four registers of hieroglyphs, reading: "The overseer of the storehouse (or workhouse) of Amun, Meh; his sister (or wife), the songstress of Amun, Mutemwia".
Meh was a rather common name; it is a nickname, short for Amunemheb ("Amun is in the festival"). Meh was overseer of what was called in Egyptian the Shena of the god Amun, which could both mean storehouse and workhouse, depending on the context. The name of the woman, equally common, means "(The goddess) Mut is in the barque"; she may have been Meh’s sister or wife; the word used here (snt) literally means sister, but in the period from which his cone dates it was also used for someone’s wife.
The cones for Meh and Mutemwia were included in the standard work on cones by De Garis Davies and Macadam as number 440. See also the data of The World of Funerary Cones, (last on page). The location of the tomb of Meh is currently unknown.
Other funerary cones for the same persons can be found in the British Museum, London (reg.no. 1875,0810.168; inv.no. EA 35657) and the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford (inv.no. 1972.649).
Funerary cones were placed in rows over the entrance of a tomb chapel, creating a decorative frieze. They were inserted into the wall, so that only the short end was visible. The oldest known examples date to the 11th Dynasty. From the New Kingdom onward the short end was inscribed (stamped) with titles and name of the owner of the tomb; sometimes a short prayer was added.
The function and meaning of these cones is still debated and there are many hypotheses. One of the most frequently encountered suggestions is that they imitate the ends of the poles that formed the roof of ancient Egyptian houses or offering chapels. An overview of the hypotheses can be found here.
Norman de Garis Davies – Miles Frederick Laming Macadam, A Corpus of Inscribed Egyptian Funerary Cones (Oxford, 1957), no. 440;
Gary Dibley - Bron Lipkin, A Compendium of Egyptian Funerary Cones (2009);
Kento Zenihiro, The Complete Funerary Cones (2009).
For the name Meh see Hermann Ranke, Die ägyptischen Personennamen (3 volumes, Glückstadt - Hamburg, 1935-1976), I, 163, 13, cf. I, 28, 14; for Mutemwia see ibid. I, 147, 17; for Meh as a nickname see Kurt Sethe, "Über einige Kurznamen des neuen Reiches", Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 44 (1907-1908), p. 87-89; Ranke, o.c. II, 127.
New Kingdom – 26th Dynasty, ca. 1550 to 525 B.C.; since both names mentioned are rather common it is difficult to date the cone more precisely. However, the database of the British Museum dates another cone for the same persons to the New Kingdom.
Diameter of inscribed end: 6.9 cm; length of cone: 26.9 cm.
Ex collection of Dr. Ulrich Müller, Switzerland, acquired between 1968 and 1978.
Intact, which is relatively rare; of most cones only the inscribed part has survived, since the "tail", which was originally inserted into the wall, was later broken off; some of the hieroglyphs slightly worn but still perfectly readable.