Horus-the-child, Meroe, 590-300 BC

Horus-the-child, Meroe, 590-300 BC
Dating:590 BC–300 BC
Origin:Egypt, Nubia, Meroe
Physical:4.8cm. (1.9 in.) - 44 g. (1.6 oz.)

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Links to others representing Horus

Bronze Horus sarcophagus, Dyn.18
Falcon sarcophagus with Osiris mummy
Horus, Lord of the Two Lands. N.K.
Horus-the-Child, 1070-774 BC
Horus-the-Child, Alexandria, 100-30 BC
Horus-the-Child, Alexandria, 304-30 BC
Horus-the-Child as a ruling king, Dyn. 18
Horus-the-Child as Amun, 776-656 BC
Horus-the-Child, Dyn.19, 1300-1200 BC
Horus-the-Child, Dyn. 25, 776-656 BC
Horus-the-Child, heir to the king, Dyn. 26
Horus-the-Child, Ptolemaic, 200-100 BC
Horus-the-Child, Ptolemaic, 304-30 BC
Horus-the-Child riding a swan, 304-31 BC
Pair of udjat eyes of Horus, Dyn. 18
Wood statuette of Horus stiding, Dyn. 11
Wooden sarcophagus lid, Dyn. 26

Links to others of type Amulet

Amulet of Duamutef, Dyn. 25
Amulet of god Thoth as a Baboon, Dyn. 18
Amulet of Imsety, Dyn. 25
Amulet of Pataikos, Dyn. 26
Amulet of Ptah-Sokar, Dyn. 20-21
Amulet of Shu, Dyn. 26
Amulet-pendant of Sakhmet, Dyn. 22
Blue glass amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Bronze Nefertem pendant amulet, Dyn. 25
Djed pillar, amulet of powers, Dyn. 26
Faience amulet of Anubis, 525-334 BC
Faience amulet of Qebhsenuef, Dyn. 25
Gilded ib, heart amulet, Dyn.18
Gilded mkrt, snake amulet, Dyn. 18
Gilded ‘tit’ (girdle of Isis) amulet, Dyn. 18
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Large amulet of Pataikos, Dyn. 20
Large amulet of Pataikos, Dyn. 20-21
Palm leaf amulet, Dyn. 18-19
Palm leaf amulet, Dyn. 18-19
Sakhmet amulet pendant, Dyn. 18
Shells amulet-pendant, c. 4500 BC
Sky Goddess Nut as a sow, 1085-760 BC
Two-fingers mummy amulet, Dyn. 26
Upper Egypt crown amulet, Dyn. 26
  This very rare bronze amulet from the Kingdom of Meroe represents Horus-the-child (also known by his Greek name of Harpokrates), as denoted by the side lock of hair, and the fingers brought to his mouth. Around 590 BC, Meroe became the capital of Nubia, south of Egypt proper. Meroe, Egypt, 590-300 BC.

“The only African state outside the Mediterranean littoral was Meroe. With Egypt under foreign domination, Meroe preserved the culture of the pharaonic state… The Kingdom of Meroe, as Kush is subsequently known, remained a major power that was taken seriously by the Persians, Greco-Macedonians and Romans who in turn ruled Egypt after 525 BC. In the Fourth century, Meroe suffered attacks from desert nomads; it collapsed about 350 BC… Until about 200 BC, when an indigenous Meroitic script was developed, Egyptian scripts and language were used for inscriptions, and the use of pyramids for royal burials continued into the Christian era, long after the practice had ceased in Egypt.” (Haywood 2000:2.01,2.21)

The falcon god Horus embodies one of the most fundamental tenets of Egyptian religious and political beliefs. “According to the Turin Canon [a papyrus from the time of Ramses II], the late Predynastic rulers of Egypt were ‘followers of Horus’. By the time of the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt in 3000 BC, the ruler was Horus” (Hart 1986:89). Therefore unlike, say, medieval European kings, Egyptian kings were not ‘kings by the grace of God.’ They were not born as gods either. Instead, it is upon their enthronement that Egyptian kings became the embodiment on earth of the god Horus. They would remain the earthly manifestation of Horus throughout their lives, until the next king became inhabited by the god.

As central as he is to Egyptian thought, Horus often escapes our comprehension and frustrates our modern want for clear unique explanations of concepts. Egyptians were perhaps more comfortable than we are with some fifteen different manifestations of Horus (Horus the Elder, Horus the Child, Hariese, Harakhti, Horus of Behdet, Harmachis, Horus of Nekhen, Horus of Mesen, etc.), his various forms (falcon, falcon-headed man, sun disk, and child with a side lock of hair), and his ever changing filiation (son of Geb and Nut, or son of Hator, or son of Ra, or son of Isis and Osiris) (Armour 2001:71). Some of this confusion arises from geographical and temporal variations which have been flattened from our current vantage point. Yet, some of the complexity remains. “. . . at Edfu, Horus appears as the consort of Hathor and the father of another form of himself, Harsomtus” (Redford 2002:166).

Few Egyptian gods remained important in all periods, in all regions, and in all strata of society. Horus may be a rare exception. He was prominent at the birth of the nation, and was still prominent three thousand five hundred years later when the last Egyptian temple—the temple of Philae—was shut down by Justinian in 550 AD. In all his variations, Horus was not only present in both upper and lower Egypt, but could be claimed as a ‘local god’ in many places. More importantly, although Horus was the quintessential official god of the powerful, he was also a god close to ordinary Egyptians, as demonstrated by the popularity of ceppis (Horus the child standing over crocodiles) and Udjat eyes (the eye of Horus) as devices to ask the god for help warding off pain, disease, and fears.

“The iconography of Horus either influenced, or was appropriated, in early Christian art. Isis and the baby Horus may be seen as the precursor for Mary and the infant Jesus; Horus dominating the beasts may have a counterpart in Christ Pantokaor doing the same; and Horus spearing a serpent may survive in the iconography of Saint George defeating the dragon” (Redford 2002:167).

“As a cosmic deity Horus is imagined as a falcon whose wings are the sky and whose right eye is the sun and left eye the moon” (Hart 1986:94).

Bibliography (for this item)

Haywood, John, Charles Freeman, Paul Garwood, and Judith Toms
2000 Historical Atlas of the Classical World—500 BC to AD 600. Barnes & Noble Books, New York, NY. (2.01, 2.21)

Bibliography (on Meroe)

Haywood, John, Charles Freeman, Paul Garwood, and Judith Toms
2000 Historical Atlas of the Ancient World—4,000,000 to 500 BC. Barnes & Noble Books, New York, NY.

Bibliography (on Horus)

Hart, George
1986 A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, United Kingdom. (94)

Redford, Donald B.
2002 The Ancient Gods Speak. Oxford University Press, New York, NY. (166)

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