Art/ Collection/ Art Object

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

Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
664–30 B.C.
From Egypt
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:
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.

Related Objects

Figure of a Cynocephalus Ape

Date: 664–380 B.C. Medium: Faience Accession: 26.7.874 On view in:Gallery 127

Amulet, Head of an Apis Bull

Date: 664–332 B.C. Medium: Serpentinite, ivory Accession: 10.130.2050 On view in:Gallery 127

Mummy of Nesmin with plant wreath, mummy mask and other cartonnage elements

Date: 200–30 B.C. Medium: Human remains, linen, mummification material, faience? (amulets), painted and gilded cartonnage, plant remains Accession: 86.1.51 On view in:Gallery 133

Amulet, locust

Date: 525–332 B.C. Medium: Ivory Accession: 04.2.96 On view in:Gallery 130

Amulet, hyena (?)

Date: 664–30 B.C. Medium: Ivory Accession: 10.130.2521 On view in:Gallery 130