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Foundation deposits

Votive offerings placed in or beneath the foundation of a building or in its immediate vicinity. They are attested under royal temples and tombs as well as under private tombs. The earliest examples date to the Early Dynastic Period (Buto; von der Way 1997: 154-155), the latest to the Christian period.

Foundation deposits are most often placed at the corners of buildings; other common locations are under hypostyle halls, courts, pylons, along walls and at the main axis of temples. Before placing them a foundation ceremony comprising ten steps was performed.

Period Type of object   examples of deposits
Old Kingdom food offerings, pottery or stone vessels, sometimes grindstones; placed in small round pits valley temple at Meydum
Middle Kingdom

food offerings, pottery or stone vessels, model tools,sometimes grindstones; mud bricks with inscribed objects inside;
pits are now larger

valley temple at Lahun

New Kingdom,
18th Dynasty
pottery vessels, tools, calcite ointment jars, beads, food offerings; model tools, miniature pottery, faience and steatite plaques (no longer laid in a mud brick) mortuary temple of Amenhotep II; Hierakonpolis
New Kingdom, Ramesside Period increase in uniform mass-production: many small faience objects, longer inscriptions on stone or faience objects mortuary temple of Tausret, Nebunnef, Merenptah
Third Intermediate Period small plaques of copper/bronze, faience and model pottery vessels UC 13015 The are not many examples of the period in the Petrie museum. Examples are well-known from Tanis (Montet 1952: 133-148). (click on the image for a larger picture)
Late Period miniature inscribed stone and metal plaques, model mud bricks, pottery, rectangular green faience plaques, resin and ore sample unprovenanced pieces

purely Egyptian examples are similar to those of the Late Period

Greek influence seen in series of rectangular plaques with bilingual dedication

unprovenanced pieces


Weinstein 2001 (summary with further literature)


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