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Pharoah’s Creatures: Animals from Ancient Egypt

Pharoah’s Creatures: Animals from Ancient Egypt

9 June to 9 July 2004


This exhibition will comprise over 100 fine pieces representing 40 species of animals, dating from 3,500 BC to the first century AD and ranging in value from £500 to over £100,000. Birds and animals played an important role in every aspect of ancient Egyptian culture. Ancient Egyptians believed that the world was inhabited by all manner of powers and forces and this unseen world could in some way be made manifest by the behaviour and characteristics of living creatures. Thus ancient Egyptian deities could take the form of animals which were considered to be the earthly manifestation of a god or goddess.

The noble and serene seated cat is perhaps the most quintessential image of ancient Egypt. The female cat was the animal manifestation associated with Bastet, an ancient goddess worshipped at Per-Pastet (Bubastis) in the Nile delta. The most important figure of a cat to be exhibited is a bronze hollow-cast cat seated on its haunches, dating from the Late Dynastic Period, 25 th – 30 th Dynasty, 662-343 BC. The cult of Bastet enjoyed its greatest prestige in this Late Period (post c.600 BC) and there is a superb cat head in the exhibition, probably the mask of a cat mummy, dating from the 26 th Dynasty, circa 600 BC.

Beasts, birds and insects from the marshy areas around the Nile were frequently depicted in ancient Egypt. The exhibition includes an extremely rare blue glass crocodile and a limestone hippopotamus, while among the birds are a bronze ibis dating from the 16 th Dynasty, circa 600 BC, a bronze falcon from the Late Dynastic Period, 664-332 BC, and a charmingly moulded pottery askos or vessel in the form of a small duck. Domestic animals are also represented, such as a wooden bull or ox, which may have formed part of a ploughing scene placed around the sarcophagus in a tomb with other scenes of daily life, and the oldest piece in the exhibition, an extremely rare example of a pig from one of the earliest periods, Pre-Dynastic Period, Nagada I-II, circa 4000-3500 BC.

This fascinating exhibition will coincide with London Sculpture Week, 10 June to 18 June 2004.


14 Old Bond Street

London W1S 4PP

Tel. 020 7495 1623


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