Antiquities > Egyptian Antiquities

Dwarf from Zagazig


This little dwarf (or is it a cat?) from Zagazig in Egypt stands 48mm high. It dates from 300 BC to 100 AD. It was made in two halves and joined together, so it is hollow.

It has a built-in provenance: on the back is written in indian ink "Lwrnc 1898 P2129". Presumably Lwrnc stands for Lawrence. Although the famous TE Lawrence did excavate in Egypt, I don't think the time-frame would be right for him. Can anyone identify this Lawrence?

Here is the background information:

ZAGAZIG, the modern name for the ancient city of Bubastis on the Nile Delta which was the site of a great sanctuary of Bast which flourished from the 9th century BC. In Histories (Bk II), the Greek historian Herodotus described the annual festival of the goddess, whom he equated with the Greek goddess Artemis; this was an occasion for drunken and licentious revelry which he estimated attracted over 700,000 people. Excavations have uncovered large cat cemeteries in the vicinity, containing many mummified cats and cat figurines, perhaps dedicated to Bast during the festival. Images of the cat goddess sometimes show her as a cat-headed woman in a clinging dress, and her sacred animal, for which the Egyptians seem to have had a particular fondness, is shown serenely seated, sometimes nursing or accompanied by kittens; such images include some of the most charmingly naturalistic works of ancient Egyptian sculpture.

don't know who this Lawrence was, but the statue looks like a later, stylized version of 'Bes'.

i have a similar terracotta statue of Harpocrates, and i think these were very typical in Egypt during the Roman era. i believe they were originally sold as inexpensive votive offerings, possibly to travelers or pilgrims.


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