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Magical stele of Harpocrates (Cippus)

Magical stele of Harpocrates (Cippus)
© BA Antiquities Museum/C. Gerigk


Greco-Roman Antiquities

Magical stele of Harpocrates (Cippus)

Category:
Myths and magic, cippi (Horus stelae)
Date:
Graeco-Roman Period (332 BCE-395 CE)
Provenance:
Unknown
Material(s):
Rock, limestone
Hall:
Greco-Roman Antiquities


Description

Cippus or stela, representing Horus the child (Harpocrates) with a side lock in high relief. He is standing on crocodiles, holding animals in his hands which were the emblems of the powers of evil. He is surmounted with the head of the god Bes.
The stela surmounts in on a base on which is incised in relief a person on his chariot, throwing arrows at noxious creatures similar to the ones Harpocrates is grasping.

Magic Stelae (Cippi)

Harpocrates as a boy with the side lock (lock of youth) also appears dominating crocodiles, serpents, and other noxious animals on the "Cippus" or stela of "Horus on the crocodiles" which was the common manifestation of the importance of Harpocrates in healing ritual. On the cippus the head of the child Harpocrates was often surmounted by  the head of Bes head; the god who was considered to be capable of warding off snakes and powers of evil. Egyptians placed cippi in their houses and gardens, and even buried them in the ground to protect themselves and their property from the attacks of noxious beasts, reptiles, and all kinds of insects. This stela was every where during the Late Period in ancient Egypt.

Harpocrates

Ptolemy I (Soter) tried to integrate the Egyptian religion with that of the Greek; Ptolemy's policy was to find a religion that would be revered by both groups, it consisted of three members, Serapis, Isis  and their son Harpocrates. This religion spread from the center, Alexandria, reaching Ancient Rome, and survived until the end of the Roman Period (4th century CE).
The name Harpocrates is the Hellenized version of the Egyptian phrase Her-pa-khered or “Horus the child”. Horus was the son of the god Osiris and the goddess Isis. He is one of the ancient Egyptian deities, known to us at least as early as the late Predynastic Period. He was still prominent in the latest temples of the Greco-Roman period.
Harpocrates was often portrayed as a boy wearing the side lock and frequently appeared in the arms of his mother Isis. Bronze statuettes representing him, with or without Isis, were common in the late Pharaonic Period and Greco-Roman times. Harpocrates, in various forms, often wore the Hemhem Crown as a king of Egypt.


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

References
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  • Robert A. Armour, Gods and Myths of Ancient Egypt (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 1986).
  • Sydney H. Aufrère, "Serpents, magie et hiéroglyphes", Egypte Nilotique et Méditerranéenne 6 (2013): 93-122.
  • Jocelyne Berlandini, "Une stèle d'Horus sur les crocodiles du supérieur des prêtres de Sekhmet Padiimennebnesouttaouy", Cahiers de Karnak 6 (1980): 235-245.
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  • Mona Serry, ed., Bibliotheca Alexandrina: Antiquities Museum, introduction by Ismail Serageldin (Alexandria: Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Antiquities Museum, 2015): 118, 319.
  • Ian Shaw and Paul Nicholson, The British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt (London: British Museum Press, 1997).
  • Heike Sternberg - el Hotabi, “Horusstele des Anchpachėred, Sohn des Djedheriuefanch Museum of Fine Arts Boston (Nr. 05.90)”, Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur 16 (1989): 275-287.
  • Richard H. Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2003).
  • آيدرس بل، مصر من الإسكندر الأكبر حتى الفتح العربي، ترجمة عبد اللطيف أحمد علي، ومحمد عواد حسين (القاهرة: مكتبة النهضة المصرية، 1954).
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