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Wooden figure of a ram

British Museum

British Museum

Ancient Egyptians believed that the Underworld was populated by strange creatures. While some of them, like Apophis, were malign. Others, like the figures found in royal tombs, were the servants of Osiris, lord of the Underworld, sent to protect the king on his journey to the Afterlife.These protective deities guard the gates to the Mansion of Osiris, in which the deceased, whether king or peasant farmer, was judged. They have a human body and the head of an animal. The demon gatekeepers are painted bright colours, but those placed within the tomb are covered with black resin, signifying that they are inhabitants of the Underworld. It also links them with regeneration, black being associated with the fertile soil of the Nile valley. The demon's outstretched hands indicate that it held something dangerous, probably the metal knives which were carried by the gatekeepers. This demon would have used the knives to protect the deceased, not to threaten him.

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  • Title: Wooden figure of a ram
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 57.00cm; Height: 52.00cm; Width: 40.50cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: plastered
  • Registration number: 1912,0210.42
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Tomb of Thutmose III
  • Period/culture: 18th Dynasty
  • Material: wood; plaster; linen
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Mohassib, Mohammed
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