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Rhinoceros beetle box

Period:
Macedonian and Ptolemaic Period
Date:
664–30 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Bronze or copper alloy
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
  • Description

    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.

  • Provenance

    Formerly Carnarvon Collection (before 1923). Purchased by the Museum from Lady Carnarvon, 1926.

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
545202

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