Ram Headed Falcon Pendant
Pendant in the shape of a ram headed falcon (gold, lapis-lazuli, turquoise and carnelian), found on the mummy of an Apis bull in the Serapeum of Memphis at Saqqara. This pendant takes the form of a falcon with a ram’s head, with outstretched wings and legs. This is a composite figure of a deity, almost certainly a form of the sun god.
The pendant was found in Saqqara from the tomb of the Apis that dies in the 26th year of Ramesses II’s reign. This site was excavated from 1851 to 1853. The pendant is rare not just in the quality of the material but also the representation of the deity. The pendant is made from gold with 99.5 percent purity, which is extremely rare in Egyptian jewelry.
The cult of the Apis was central to Egyptian religion and dates from Egypt’s earliest settlement. Because of its strength and virility, the bull was associated with the pharaoh and his divinity. The cult of the Apis, associated with Ptah, chief god of Memphis, was very popular during the reign of the Ptolemies, Greeks who ruled Egypt from the city of Alexandria (ca. 332–30 BC). According to the Greek historian Herodotus a bolt of lightning came down from heaven and impregnated the mother of the Apis. The Apis calf had special markings. It was black with a white diamond on its forehead, an eagle on its back, a scarab under its tongue, and split tail hairs.
Composed of 300 cloisons, this artwork has inlays of turquoise, lapis lazuli, and carnelian, and the craftsmanship is detailed and defined. The New Kingdom pendant shows a composite figure of a deity, almost certainly a form of the sun god; The falcon is depicted with its wings outstretched and legs spread in a position ill-suited to flight, holding shen signs in its claws.
The head is that of a ram’s with horizontal horns. The composite figure appears in The Book of Caverns, a royal funerary text that appears during the Ramesside Period. The final scene with this deity describes the nocturnal transformations of the sun god in the underworld until the morning when the sun rises to start a new day.
“… As a result of his creative ability and because the onomatopoeic word for ram ― ‘ba’ ― was similar to the spiritual aspect or ba of living things Khnum was held to be the ba of Re [, the sun god]. The sun god was thus depicted as a ram-headed being in his netherworld representations ― and Khnum himself is sometimes called Khnum-Re.”
― The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, by Richard H. Wilkinson
In the tomb of Twosret (KV14), the sun at the end of this transformation takes the shape of a ram headed falcon with wings and legs outstretched, as displayed in this pendant. This pendent is a representation of rebirth for the deceased, even in this case, a dead bull and not a dead person. Because of this fact, you can see that the Apis bull was an important animal in Egyptian mythology.
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, reign of Ramesses II, ca. 1279-1213 BC. Now in the Louvre. E 80