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Sphinx of King Sheshenq

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

The sphinx was one of many composite beings created by the ancient Egyptians. Such images were not simply combinations of human and animal forms; they emphasized the more-than-human aspects of the subject.

Small figures of sphinxes were made as temple offerings or as part of the decoration of cult objects. When added to ritual objects, sphinxes such as this served a protective role. The figure is inscribed for a King Sheshenq, but we cannot be certain which of the five pharaohs named Sheshenq is shown.

  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 945–712 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 22 to Dynasty 23
    PERIOD Third Intermediate Period
    DIMENSIONS 1 15/16 x 13/16 x 2 7/8 in. (4.9 x 2.1 x 7.3 cm) mount (Display dimensions): 2 1/4 x 1 1/8 x 3 in. (5.7 x 2.9 x 7.6 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Recumbent bronze sphinx with royal head wearing nemes headdress and beard. Wings and tail of falcon (?) incised on body. Two pins on underside of body for insertion in a separate base. Incised on breast "The good god, (uncertain cartouche)", possibly Seshonk V. Condition: Good. One leg slightly bent. Surface cleaned before purchase and is dull and black. Some slight encrustation around inscription
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Sphinx of King Sheshenq, ca. 945–712 B.C.E. Bronze, 1 15/16 x 13/16 x 2 7/8 in. (4.9 x 2.1 x 7.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 33.586. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 33.586_edited_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE side, 33.586_edited_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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