Monday, December 26, 2016

Crocodile God of the Fayum

Fig. 1 - Limestone Statue of Sobek
     The Ancient Egyptians often represented their gods as having a human body and the head of an animal. The Middle Kingdom statue of the god Sobek in Figure 1 illustrates this perfectly.

     The god is shown wearing a collar on his upper chest area and a wig with long, almost female, hair. The hair may be shown this way since Sobek was associated with Isis in caring for Osiris.

     The sculpture is of limestone, dates to the reign of Amenemhat III and is now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Sobek first appears, as far as we know, in the Pyramid Texts and is worshiped until the end of ancient Egyptian civilization.
Figure 2 - Crocodile Eating a Catfish

     The Egyptians often took mummified animals to the temple of a particular god as offerings. Sobek's temple at Kom Ombo has a large collection of mummified crocodiles, which were stacked haphazardly in a storeroom the last time I was there. Some of the mummies were from medium sized crocodiles that must have been rather dangerous to capture and kill. Mummified crocodile eggs were also presented to the the god as votive offerings.

     Crocodiles were often represented in Egyptian art in their non-divine form as well. Figure 2 shows a Middle Kingdom relief of a crocodile that is devouring a catfish while a reed boat floats above it. This relief is likely from a tomb and may have originally been part of a standard fishing / fowling scene that was so common in Middle Kingdom tombs.

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