Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Rhinoceros beetle box

Period:
Ptolemaic Period
Date:
664–30 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Cupreous metal
Dimensions:
h. 6.4 cm (2 1/2 in); l. 7 cm (2 3/4 in); w. 5.9 cm (2 5/16 in)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926
Accession Number:
26.7.855
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 134
This rather sinister horned creature seems to represent the rhinoceros beetle, Oryctes nascicarnis, which is native to the Mediterranean region. The small bronze sarcophagus that it guards once held a beetle mummy, though not necessarily of the same species. In embalming beetles, as in all animal mummification, the Egyptians of the Late Period and Ptolemaic and Roman times gave tangible form to their belief that all animals, large and small were incarnations of the divine.
Formerly Carnarvon Collection, purchased in Luxor before 1923. Purchased by the Museum from Lady Carnarvon, 1926.

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