Egypt, Late Dynastic Period, 26th to 31st Dynasty, ca. 664 to 332 BCE. An intriguing cast leaded-bronze sarcophagus of a petite size surmounted with the petite effigy of a shrew. The sarcophagus is of a characteristic rectangular form, with a once-hollow interior that would have contained the remains of a mummified shrew that was carefully wrapped in linen. The upper side of the sarcophagus is modeled with a charming shrew figure as it would have appeared while still alive, with an elongated body, a sinuous tail, and a tapered snout. A fabulous example of a sarcophagus - covered in beautiful mottled green and brown patina! Size: 2.3" L x 0.75" W x 1.2" H (5.8 cm x 1.9 cm x 3 cm)
According to scholar Dorothea Arnold, "'The Voracious' was the ancient Egyptians' name for the shrew, an epithet that aptly describes the feeding habits of this tiny animal. In ancient Egyptian popular mythology the shrew was closely associated with the ichneumon. The shrew represented the blind aspect of a solar deity whose complement, endowed with keen eyesight, was understood to be the ichneumon." (Arnold, Dorothea. "An Egyptian Bestiary." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Spring 1995, Vol. LII, no. 4, p. 39)
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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Minor nicks and abrasions to sarcophagus body and shrew, with softening to finer details, and light encrustations, otherwise intact and very good. Light earthen deposits as well as great green and brown patina throughout. Possible repatination to areas of patina.