Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Falcon-headed sphinx recumbent on a pedestal with a ramp, and a feline(?) behind, possibly a gnomon for a shadow clock or instrument

Period:
Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
Date:
664–30 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Ivory
Dimensions:
L. 6.9 × W. 1.6 × H. 3 cm (2 11/16 × 5/8 × 1 3/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.194.2474
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 134
It has been suggested that this unusual piece is a gnomon, the element that casts a shadow in an instrument for measuring time by shadows. Ivory seems an unusual choice, but part of a shadow instrument preserved from Tanis and in the British Museum is also of ivory.

Possibly the sphinx with a falcon head might allude to Re, and the cat to his daughter the Eye of the Sun, their separation and coming together again being certainly associated with the large regular events like the inundation that structures the Egyptian year and life.
Formerly Gréau Collection. Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan before 1903. Donated to the Museum, 1917.

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