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Collection Highlights

Head of Serapis

Category:
Sculpture in the round, statues, human / gods and goddesses statues, fragments of statues, head
Date:
Graeco-Roman Period, Ptolemaic Period, 2nd cent. BCE
Provenance:
Lower Egypt, Alexandria, Abukir, Canopus (Excavations of 1999)
Material(s):
Rock, marble
Height:
59 cm;
Width:
34 cm;
Depth:
34 Select
This artifact is not currently displayed. It is among the collection chosen for the exhibition “Sunken Cities” which is hosted by Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minnesota, USA) from November 4, 2018 to April 14, 2019.


Description

Head of the god Serapis, with curly hair, and a thick beard, and five locks of his hair falling on his forehead, On the top of the head is a horizontal, circular surface, in its center a square hole as a fixing point for the Calathos  which was found further away on the seabed at ancient east Canopus . Its outer wall is decorated with a slight relief of two similar plants with thick stems and short side shoots ending in large leaves. The scale of the sculpture also plays an essential part in its identification, the head with the Calathos are 83 cm tall, the only head that is any larger is that of Crocodilopolis  in the Egyptian museum in Cairo, which is 90 cm tall, therefore it can be assumed that this was a colossal statue of between 4 and 4.5 meters tall, and it is not a simple votive statue.

Serapis

A god invented and introduced into Egypt by Ptolemy I to unite the Greeks and the Egyptians in common worship. He was revered as a healing divinity and the God of the other world. Serapis was portrayed as a man with curly hair and a beard, recognized by the five corkscrew curls on his forehead, wearing the kalathos on his head. His finest temple was the Serapeum  at Alexandria, this temple was considered to be one of the most splendid places of worship ever built on the Mediterranean, the patients would sleep and be visited by Serapis in their dreams, who prescribed the cures for their ailments.


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

Bibliography
  • "Serapis" In: Encyclopedia of Greco-Roman Mythology. Kennedy, Mike Dixon. England, 2001.
  • Cotterell, Arthur. The Pimlico Dictionary of Classical Mythologies. London, 2000.
  • Empereur, Jean-yves. Alexandria rediscovered. British Museum Press, 1995.
  • Goddio, Franck ed. Egypt's Sunken Treasures. Martin-Gropius Bau, Berlin: 13 May– 4 September 2006. Munich: Prestel, 2006.
  • عبد الحليم نور الدين. مواقع الآثار اليونانية الرومانية في مصر. الجيزة، 2007.
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