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Snake Coffin

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Egyptian religion frequently adopted a mulitplicity of approaches to explain or represent different aspects of a single divine concept. The sun god, for instance, had a morning aspect called Khepri, commonly depicted as a scarab beetle pushing the sun disk across the heavens much as a beetle rolls a ball of dung across the desert floor. The noontime sun was Re or Re-Horakhty, often shown as a falcon or falcon-headed man with a sun disk on his head. Atum, who personified the sun that set over the western horizon to travel through the underworld, could be represented in many guises, including those of a human-headed cobra, a ram-headed man, or a weary old man.

MEDIUM Bronze
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES 664-30 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 26 or later
    PERIOD Late Period to Ptolemaic Period
    DIMENSIONS 5 11/16 x 1 9/16 x 22 1/16 in. (14.4 x 3.9 x 56 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 36.624
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Snake Coffin, 664-30 B.C.E. Bronze, 5 11/16 x 1 9/16 x 22 1/16 in. (14.4 x 3.9 x 56 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.624. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, 36.624_Gavin_Ashworth_photograph.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Oblong bronze receptacle, probably for mummified reptile, surmounted by long uraeus serpent with human head. Uraeus and double crown on head, incised details. No inscription but snake is undoubtedly a representation of Atum. Condition: Good. The object has obviously been cleaned fairly recently and this has been well done. Apparently it has been assembled from two pieces for there is a repair at about the center, ancient (?). The end of the base is missing. Good work.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (86%)
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