This is the inscribed end of a funerary cone, made of clay, containing four registers of hieroglyphs, separated by horizontal lines, reading: "The revered one before Osiris, the fourth prophet of Amun Montuemhat, justified; his beloved wife, the king's acquaintance, the mistress of the house Nesykhonsu, justified".
Many cones for this owner were found at the site of his tomb at Asasif (TT 34) as well as in other locations throughout the Theban necropolis. From his titles - mentioned in other sources, especially on his other funerary cones - it becomes obvious that he was a much more important man than is suggested by the title on the present cone: he was also overseer of Upper Egypt, hereditary noble, mayor (of the city), seal bearer of the King of Lower Egypt, sole companion, scribe of the temple of Amun, and vice overseer of the prophets in the temples.
This type of cone for Montuemhat was included in the standard work on cones by De Garis Davies and Macadam as number 419. See also The World of Funerary Cones. For other cones of the same person (with various family members) see the numbers 409-411, 418, 420, 449, 460-461, 472-473, 485-486, 604, as well as 656/B29 in the works cited.
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. 419;
Gary Dibley - Bron Lipkin, A Compendium of Egyptian Funerary Cones (2009);
Kento Zenihiro, The Complete Funerary Cones (2009).
For the name Montuemhat see Hermann Ranke, Die ägyptischen Personennamen (3 volumes, Glückstadt - Hamburg, 1935-1976), I, 154, 7; for the name of his wife Nesykhonsu see ibid., I, 178, 20.
25th-26th dynasty, reigns of Taharka to Psamtek I, ca. 675-648 B.C.
Diameter of inscribed end 7.8 cm maximum; length circa 8 cm.
Ex collection of Dr. Ulrich Müller, Switzerland, acquired between 1968 and 1978.
Fragment as shown: a part of the "tail", which was originally inserted into the wall, was later broken off; minor wear to some of the hieroglyphs but all the signs are perfectly readable and are visible quite clearly in deep relief.