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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Inlays and Shrine Elements

Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
380–30 B.C.
From Egypt
Glass, cupreous metal
various measurements for group
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1921
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 134
In temples, statuettes of Egyptian gods were housed in small shrines, from which they emerged for rituals. Gods also had processional barks that carried shrines in which the god remained concealed during processions within and outside the temple. Wood shrines densely inlaid with figural, hieroglyphic, and decorative glass elements are attested from the late sixth century B.C. onward. Inlay elements might be placed in separate cells or be contiguously adhered on a common background. Most such shrines are, however, only known from the jumbled masses of elements preserved in temple deposits after the shrine(s) in the deposit had decayed.

This imagined scene draws from a large group of fine, monochromatic and mosaic glass inlays that were purchased together. The scene suggests ways the elements might have been meaningfully arranged. In the upper register, a king kneels and offers globular jars of wine to a seated god and goddess on the left. In a second register, a king offers to a god who stands at the right holding a staff. The scenes reflect aspects of the normal organization of scenes, including that seated figures of gods tend to appear in upper registers of a composition and standing gods lower down. In an ancient arrangement, the orientation of the two registers would have been identical - gods on one side considered the more interior side, and kings on the other. Here, the extant fragments limited the scene recreation possibiltiie, so that the upper register shows the gods on the left and in the lower register they are shown on the right. In the lowest region are partial tyet knots and a selection of hieroglyphs that do not form words.

From the same aggregation come column drums, bronze bolts appropriately in the form of a "door bolt" and "union" hieroglyphs, a square bronze rod, and four bronze attachments. The lot also included bits of gilded plaster.

Link to a blog about Ptolemaic Art at The Met
Nile and Newcomers: A Fresh Installation of Egyptian Ptolemaic Art
Purchased from Khaouam Brothers, Cairo, 1921.

Valbelle, Dominique and Séverine Marchi 2012. "Un depôt votifd de la forteresse de Tell el-Herr." In "Parcourir l'éternité": Hommages à Jean Yoyotte, 2 vols, passim.

Related Objects

Inlays from shrine: heads

Date: 380–30 B.C. Medium: Glass Accession: 21.2.2m.1-.3 On view in:Gallery 134

Inlays from shrine: Isis knot sections

Date: 380–30 B.C. Medium: Glass Accession: 21.2.2s.1-.12 On view in:Gallery 134

Inlays from shrine: arms

Date: 380–30 B.C. Medium: Glass Accession: 21.2.2k.1-.3 On view in:Gallery 134

Inlays from shrine: two legs

Date: 380–30 B.C. Medium: Glass Accession: 21.2.2j.1-.2 On view in:Gallery 134

Inlays from shrine: Offering jar, torso

Date: 380–30 B.C. Medium: Glass Accession: 21.2.2b.1–.2 On view in:Gallery 134