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May 14 Art Minute: Egyptian, probably Ptolemaic Period (323-31 BCE), Horus

Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Art Museum, Toledo Museum, art, artminute, art of the week
Egyptian, probably Ptolemaic Period (323–31 BCE), Horus. Basalt or dolerite, 332–30 BCE. H. 17 ½ in. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1972.53. Classic Court

This falcon represents the god Horus, who was believed to be the manifestation of the living pharaoh of Egypt. It is most likely the lanner falcon, whose distinctive facial markings inspired the design of the iconic wedjat or “Eye of Hours” protective amulet. The Macedonian Greeks who ruled Egypt after the conquest of Alexander the Great (in 332 BCE) built a huge temple at Edfu to the protector of their new dynasty, where a tame lanner falcon was worshipped as the god.

The rough area on top of the head of this sculpture is where a metal headdress was attached. Horus sometimes wears the double crown symbolizing rule of Upper and Lower Egypt. The eyes of Horus, which were thought of as the sun and the moon, were originally inlaid on this sculpture with colored stone or glass.