Head of a Statue of the God Sobek

Fragment of a limestone statue (snout restored) of the chief god of Faiyum, the crocodile-headed Sobek. The statue comes from the mortuary temple of Amenemhat III, attached to his pyramid in Hawara. Although the temple was begun by Amenemhat III, it was incomplete at the time of his death. It was finished by his daughter, Sobekneferu, the first definitely attested female king.

Early in Egyptian civilization, deities were depicted as humans, animals, or composite creatures in two-dimensional art. Beginning in the late 12th Dynasty, deity sculptures with human bodies and animal heads become increasingly common.

Head of a Statue of the God Sobek Shedeti
Head of a Statue of the God Sobek Shedeti

This sculpture of the crocodile god Sobek with a remarkable smile and the power to protect the king from evil originates from Hawara, site of the second pyramid complex of the king Amenemhat III, which included numerous statues depicting deities of the Egyptian pantheon. Sobek was particularly venerated in the Faiyum, a marshy area west of the Nile Valley that was a natural home of crocodiles.

The Egyptians believed they often sighted the crocodile god Sobek near marshes and on riverbanks. Because of this, he was highly venerated in the marshy oasis of the Faiyum in Lower Egypt.

The god often appears depicted as a crocodile-headed man, as a crocodile on his naos or, again, as a crocodile wrapped in a shroud from which only the head emerges. He later became a primordial deity and a creator god, an object of great popular veneration, as confirmed by numerous amulets bearing his image, attested throughout Pharaonic history.

Head of a Statue of the God Sobek Shedeti
Head of a Statue of the God Sobek Shedeti
Head of a Statue of the God Sobek Shedeti
Head of a Statue of the God Sobek Shedeti

Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, ca. 1991-1802 BC. Fragment of the god Sobek, limestone, excavated at Hawara. Dimensions: 51 cm (length) ; 54.5 cm (height). Now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. AN1912.605

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