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Collection Highlights

Statue of Thoth as an Ibis

Statue of Thoth as an Ibis
© BA Antiquities Museum/M. Aly

Registration Number(s)
BAAM Serial Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum Number 0636

Inv.Inventory
 (Al Ashmunin storerooms) 134

where to find


showcase 2

Statue of Thoth as an Ibis

Category:
Sculpture in the round, statues, animal / bird, ibis
Date:
Ancient Egyptian period, Late Period (664-332 BCE)
Provenance:
Upper Egypt, Minya, Tuna el Gabal (Excavations of 1942-1943)
Material(s):
  • Non-organic material, alloy, bronze
  • Organic material, wood
Height:
23.7 cm
Hall:
Ancient Egyptian Antiquities, showcase 2


Description

Bronze statue of the god Thoth as an ibis perching on a wooden base.

Thoth

Thoth was worshiped in Egypt from the early dynastic period and until Roman times. He was the patron of the scribes and was venerated as the god of the moon, wisdom, science, and medicine. He had also a significant role in the afterlife.
Thoth takes two iconographic forms; he was sometimes depicted as a squatting dog-headed baboon and sometimes as an ibis or ibis-headed human, often carrying the palette and the pen of the scribe. His hair-dresses  include the crescent moon and disk , the Atef  crown, and the crowns of Upper and lower Egypt.

The principal cult centre of Thoth was at Hermopolis, ancient Egyptian Khemenu, near the modern town of el-Ashmunein in Minya.

Thoth as Moon god

As moon god, Thoth regulated the seasons and counted the stars. Thus, he was associated with astronomy, mathematics and accounting.

The god of Medicine

Thoth’s medical reputation is attested in mythology: in the Osiris legend, he assists Horus and Anubis in reconstructing the body of Osiris and teaches Isis the spells necessary to revive him. In one version, he heals the infant Horus after Isis finds him dead of a scorpion bite. He is also said to have healed Horus’ right eye, damaged by Seth, and to have replaced the head of Isis with the one of a cow after Horus cut it off in a rage.

Lord of the Sacred Word

Thoth was said to have invented the art of writing, and as god of scribes, he bears the title of the “lord of the sacred word”. He also personified divine speech. In both baboon and ibis forms, he is portrayed overseeing and protecting the scribes. Hymns and prayers to Thoth, focusing on his role as patron of the scribes, were used as school texts and appear on statues of scribes.

Thoth in the Afterlife

In scenes of divine judgment, such as the vignettes accompanying the Book of the Dead, Thoth records the results of weighing the heart  against Maat and announces the verdict, typically appearing as an ibis-headed man, and sometimes as a baboon seated atop the scales of justice.


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

Bibliography
  • “Thoth”. In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, edited by Donald B. Redford. Vol. III. New York : Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • Armour, Robert A. Gods and Myths of Ancient Egypt. Cairo: The American University in Cairo, New York, 2001.
  • Wilkinson, Richard, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2003.
  • Budge, E.A. The Gods of the Egyptians. Vol. I. New York: Dover, 1969.
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