Sphinx of Senwosret III

Sphinx of Senwosret III, ca. 18781841 B.C.E.; Dynasty 12, reign of Senwosret III; Middle Kingdom
Egyptian
Gneiss; L. 28 3/4 in. (73 cm)
Gift of Edward S. Harkness, 1917 (17.9.2)


Description

"Because of their strength, ferocity, imposing mane, and awesome roar, lions were associated with kingship since prehistoric times. As divine guardians against evil, they also symbolized in cosmic myths the place on the horizon where the sun was reborn every day. With the body of a lion and the head of a human, the sphinx symbolically combined the power of the lion with the image of the reigning king. In this magnificent example, the face belongs to Senwosret III of Dynasty 12. He wears a pleated linen headcloth, called a nemes headdress, which is symbolic of kingship. The nemes is surmounted by a cobra, which represents the goddess Udjo, one of the protectors of the king. The cobra's hood and head were either carved separately or they were repaired in antiquity, for there is an ancient dowel hole drilled into the neck.

While the Egyptians viewed the standing sphinx as a conqueror, the crouching sphinx was a guardian of sacred places. Thus pairs of sphinxes flanked avenues or entrances to important buildings. This sphinx was carved from a single block of beautifully grained anorthosite gneiss from quarries in Nubia. The sculptor has used the pattern in the stone to great effect on the body of the lion and has masked the rather awkward transition from animal body to human head with the headdress and the stylized pattern representing the lion's mane."  - MET 

Copyright 2001 The Metropolitan Museum of Art - MET

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The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008
 

 

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Table of Contents

Ancient Near East Art

Female Worshipper- Uruk
Funerary Head of an Elamite
Stele of Mesha, King of Moab
Sarcophagus of Eshmunazor II, king of Sidon
Stele Showing the Storm-God Baal
Fertility Goddess - Ugarit
Oskoron I - Byblos
The Spinner Relief
The Archers of Darius
Bull Capital From Darius I Palace
Sargon II and a High Official
Tablet of Sargon's 8th Campaign
Winged Assyrian Bulls
Law-Codex of Hammurabi
Hero Choking a Small Lion
Kudurru of Melishihu
Hittite God - Gold Figurine
Seated Statue of Gudea, prince of Lagash
Foundation Nail of Ur Ba'u
Cylinder-Seal Of Sharkalisharri
Victory Stele of Naram-Sin
Urnanshe (King of Lagash) Relief
Ebih-II, the Superintendent of Mari
Tablet Of Pre-Cuneiform Script
King and Eunuch Attendant Relief
Human-Headed Winged Bull
Bearded Man Holding Tendrils
Nubian With Animals and Skins
Head of a Roaring Lion
Cylinder Seal With Impression
Orthostat Relief - Hunting Scene
Sphinx Plaques
Throne With Bull Deity

Ancient Egypt

Model of a Riverboat
Ritual Figure of the 12th Dynasty
Stela of Mentuwoser
Coffin of Khnum-nakht
Sphinx of Senwosret III
Face of Senwosret III
Pectoral with the Name of Senwosret II
Cat
Statuette of a Hippopotamus
Seated Statue of Hatshepsut
Ostracon of Senenmut
Chair of Renyseneb
Heart Scarab of Hatnofer
Kneeling Statue of Tuthmosis III
Arm Panel from a Ceremonial Chair
Sphinx of Amenhotep III

Mediterranean

Pendant in the form of a man's head - Carthage