late antique egyptian period

Egyptian Silver Horus Figurine, Late Period, 26th Dynasty, C. 712-525 BC

The falcon Horus is the symbol par excellence of the divine Kingship of Egypt. The ancient Egyptians believed that portrayals of the Horus falcon represented their Pharaoh. When the Pharaoh died, he turned into Osiris, Lord of the Underworld, while his son became the new Horus in this world.

Rare Egyptian Limestone Stele for Tutu, Late Ptolemaic - Roman Period, 1st Century BC/AD

Sculpted in relief in the form of a naos with a cavetto cornice surmounted with a row of twenty-four stylized uraei supported by two columns at either end, with the god Tutu depicted as a sphinx walking to the right, the lean and elongated body with the ribs protruding, the head turned to face outwards, surrounded by a thick mane-like wig with a tni crown of rams horns and plumes, the curling tail terminating with a cobra head, a knife in each paw, a winged solar disc with cobra above

A rare subject matter, Tutu, meaning ‘he who keep enemies at a distance’, was an apotropaic god venerated mainly in the Greco-Roman Period.

Egyptian Faience Thoth Baboon, Late Period, 664-332 BC

From the beginning of Egyptian history, the baboon had a role in Egyptian religion. Initially, he was known as a deity called the “Great White One” (that is, the moon), but soon this god was conflated with Thoth, the better known ibis-headed god of writing and recording. Thoth’s responsibilities included the calendar, which in ancient Egypt was lunar based, facilitating the integration of the two deities. Baboon amulets probably were offerings to shrines honoring Thoth, but could also have been placed with the deceased as a representative of the deity who recorded Osiris’ judgment. This baboon holds a wedjat eye, the eye stolen from Horus and healed by Thoth.

2

Egyptian Faience Khnum Amulet, Third Intermediate to Late Period, c. 1069-525 BC

The striding ram-headed god is finely modeled, with hands clenched by his sides, wearing a shendyet-kilt, on an integral rectangular base, pierced for suspension.

Khnum was one of the earliest Egyptian deities, originally the god of the source of the Nile River. Since the annual flooding of the Nile brought with it silt and clay, and its water brought life to its surroundings, he was thought to be the creator of the bodies of human children, which he made at a potter’s wheel, from clay, and placed in their mothers’ wombs. He later was described as having moulded the other deities, and he had the titles Divine Potter and Lord of created things from himself. His significance led to early theophoric names of him, for children, such as Khnum-Khufwy – “Khnum is my Protector”, the full name of Khufu (r. 2589–2566 BC), builder of the Great Pyramid.

The worship of Khnum centered on two principal riverside sites, Elephantine Island and Esna, which were regarded as sacred. At the Elephantine temple, which dates to the Middle Kingdom (2055–1650 BC), he was worshipped alongside his daughter, Anuket and Satis, his consort, as the guardian of the source of the Nile River.  At Esna, the temple dates to the Ptolemaic Period (323-30 BC), when the worship of Khnum flourished there.

Egyptian Sarcophagus Panel with Imentet, Goddess of the West, Late Period, 664-332 BC

Imentet was a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religion representing the necropolises west of the Nile. She is depicted as a woman wearing the hieroglyph for “west” on her head, and often appears in tombs welcoming the deceased into the afterlife. However, she was so closely linked with Hathor and Isis in their afterlife roles that she may be less an independent deity than an alternate form of those two goddesses.

3

Egyptian Bronze Triad (Osiris, Isis, Horus) c. Late Period,  664-30 BC

This triad represents the Osiris myth which is the most elaborate and influential story in ancient Egyptian mythology. It concerns the murder of the god Osiris, a primeval king of Egypt, and its consequences. Osiris’ murderer, his brother Set, usurps his throne. Meanwhile, Osiris’ wife Isis restores her husband’s body, allowing him to posthumously conceive a son with her. The remainder of the story focuses on Horus, the product of Isis and Osiris’ union, who is first a vulnerable child protected by his mother and then becomes Set’s rival for the throne. Their often violent conflict ends with Horus’ triumph, which restores order to Egypt after Set’s unrighteous reign and completes the process of Osiris’ resurrection. The myth, with its complex symbolism, is integral to the Egyptian conceptions of kingship and succession, conflict between order and disorder and, especially, death and the afterlife. It also expresses the essential character of each of the four deities at its center, and many elements of their worship in ancient Egyptian religion were derived from the myth.

The figure depicts Osiris, wearing the atef crown flanked by Horus the child, wearing the double crown with a sidelock and on the other side, Isis, surmounted by the sun disc with horns, shown standing on a hollow plinth, the front cast in relief with the child god squatting, flanked by Isis and Thoth in adoration, a panel on either side with falcon headed soul of Pe and jackal headed soul of Nekhen, the reverse of the plinth has panels with a lotus on stand and a human male figure, probably the deceased in jubilation posture, next to the square opening, an inscription giving the donor’s identity: ‘May Isis give life to Wedja-hor son of Pa-di-hor’, the short sides of the plinth with further souls of Pe and Nekhen.

Egyptian Cartonnage with Osiris Mourning Scene, Late Period, 664-332 BC

A rectangular cartonnage panel depicting the mummy of Osiris in the center above four canopic jars; a bird is above with one stretched wing; Isis and Nepthys stand to each side of the mummy with raised hands.

This scene depicts a mourning scene of Osiris attended by his sister/wife Isis and their sister Nepthys. Osiris was was defeated by his brother and rival Seth, who cut him into pieces. However, Isis collected all of the pieces and put them back together so her husband Osiris became the ruler of the Underworld. Isis is sometimes represented as a kite, often pictured hovering over her husband’s body as she fans life into him with her wings. The particularly shrill, piercing cry of the kite is thought to have been suggestive of the cries of wailing women in mourning.

Egyptian Bronze Votive Oxyrhynchus Fish, Late Period - Ptolemaic,   664-30 BC

It wears the crown of Hathor and uraeus. Its neck is engraved with a usekh collar and its eyes are inlayed with bronze and silver.

These fish, the medjed, a species of elephantfish in the Nile river were believed to have eaten the penis of Osiris after his brother Set had dismembered and scattered the god’s body. A settlement in Upper Egypt, Per-Medjed, was named after the fish and is now better known under its Greek name Oxyrhynchus.

The city, located about 160 km south-southwest of Cairo, is also an archaeological site and is considered one of the most important ever discovered. For the past century, the area around Oxyrhynchus has been continually excavated, yielding an enormous collection of papyrus texts dating from the time of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods of Egyptian history. Among the texts discovered at Oxyrhynchus are plays of Menander, fragments from the Gospel of Thomas, and fragments from Euclid’s Elements.

Egyptian Gold Wedjat Eye Amulet, Late Period, Dynasty 26-29, c. 664-380 BC

The wedjat-eye amulet represents a human eye with its brow, but the lines below the eye are often identified as the facial markings of a falcon. The wedjat-eye was supposedly the eye that Seth tore from Horus during a battle over who would lead the gods. Thoth healed the injured eye, returning it to Horus as the “sound one.” Wedjat-eye amulets were used from the Old Kingdom through the Roman Period and whether worn as a bracelet for everyday wear or tucked among mummy wrappings, this amulet was effective source of protection, strength and perfection.