Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Recumbent Lion

Old Kingdom
early dynasty 4–5
ca. 2575–2450 B.C.
From Egypt, Fayum Entrance Area, Herakleopolis (Ihnasya el-Medina), EEF excavations 1890-1891
L. 201 cm (79 1/8 in); w. 73 cm (28 3/4 in); h. 87 cm (34 1/4 in)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Anonymous Gift, in honor of Annette de la Renta; Annette de la Renta Gift; and Anne and John V. Hansen Egyptian Purchase Fund, 2000
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 100
This imposing lion figure must once have guarded the entrance to a pyramid-age sanctuary. As the most powerful predator of the steppe bordering the Nile valley, the lion was a symbol of royalty from early on. The animal–especially the female–also embodied a number of deities. This sculpture is the earliest extant example of monumental size that has been preserved almost in its entirety. It was excavated by the British Egypt Exploration Fund in 1891 at Herakleopolis Magna, southeast of the Fayum oasis.
Excavated at Ihnasya el-Medina (ancient Herakleopolis Magna) by Édouard F. Naville for the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1891; McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock, Scotland, 1891; Samuel Josefowitz, Lausanne, Switzerland, ca. 1966; [Robert Haber, New York]. Published in the MMA Bulletin, Fall 2002.

Arnold, Dieter 2015. "The Fayum." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 321.

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