The spectacular “Asyut Dog” is a large limestone statue of what may be a dog, a wolf or a golden jackal – the latter is the most likely. The statue is thought to come from the area surrounding the city of Asyut in Middle Egypt, and more specifically from the vicinity of its sacred animal cemetery.
The statue’s limestone contains naturally-occurring salts that are very humidity-sensitive and can be easily dissolved. These salts stagnate imperceptibly within the substance of the statue and can undermine the stone cohesion.
In ancient Egypt, sculptures of dogs and jackals were indeed significant and had various symbolic meanings. Asyut, located in Upper Egypt, was an important center where such sculptures were found.
Dogs and jackals were often associated with the god Anubis, who was depicted with the head of a jackal or a dog. Anubis was the god of embalming and the afterlife, and he played a crucial role in the funerary rituals and beliefs of ancient Egyptians.
Sculptures of dogs and jackals in Asyut and other parts of Egypt were often placed in tombs and funerary contexts, serving as protective guardians and guides for the deceased in the afterlife.
These sculptures were also connected to the concept of the “Opening of the Mouth” ceremony, which was performed during the burial rituals. The ceremony aimed to restore the deceased’s senses and enable them to partake in the offerings and rituals in the afterlife.
Dogs and jackals were associated with loyalty, vigilance, and protection. They were seen as guardians against evil spirits and threats. Sculptures of these animals in Asyut and other regions of Egypt were often placed at the entrances of temples, tombs, and sacred spaces to ward off any malevolent forces.
The sculptures of dogs and jackals in ancient Egypt, particularly in Asyut, held religious, funerary, and protective significance, representing the connection between the earthly realm and the afterlife, as well as providing protection and guidance for the deceased.
Ptolemaic Period to Roman Period, ca. 100 BC – 100 CE. Limestone. Dimensions: height: 101.5 cm (39.9 in), width: 34 cm (13.3 in), thickness: 55.5 cm (21.8 in), mass: 125 kg (275.5 lb). From Lycopolis (Asyut). Now in the Louvre. Sully wing, room 337. E 11657