Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Ibis

Period:
Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
Date:
664–30 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Cupreous metal
Dimensions:
H. 11.4 cm (4 1/2 in.); W. 5.3 cm (2 1/6 in.); L. 15 cm (5 7/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Joseph W. Drexel, 1889
Accession Number:
89.2.512
Not on view
An ibis sits with its legs and feet together and tail feathers touching the ground. This elegant bird was sacred to Thoth, the god of wisdom, scribal functions, and learning. Representations of the ibis in copper alloy are some of the most numerous sacred animal statuettes, alongside the cat, falcon, and Apis bull. The prevalence of the ibis during the first millennium BC, and the appeal of animal cult in general, can also be seen in the thousands of surviving ibis mummies, which were offered in animal necropoleis (catacombs) throughout Egypt. Ibis statuettes such as this have been found in the catacombs with ibis mummies and also in caches related to temples or shrines.
Donated by Joseph W. Drexel, Philadelphia, 1889.

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