Egypt, Late Dynastic to Ptolemaic Period, ca.664 to 30 BCE. A beautiful amulet of a goat carved from a lovely and nearly translucent amethyst stone. The goat stands on an integral rectangular pedestal with delineated legs. The body is lightly incised with lines to indicate fur texture. Almond-shaped eyes flank the slender snout and petite nostrils, and a short goatee protrudes from his chin. Surrounding each ear is a semicircular horn with lightly incised grooves. Amethyst and other semi-precious stones were cherished for their beauty and amethyst was popular for shaping miniature animals which were used a ritualistic statuary in temples or tombs. This goat is delightfully naturalistic with fine details and may have been used as fertility amulet or an offering to the god Banebdjed. Size: 1.3" L x 0.5" W x 1.25" H (3.3 cm x 1.3 cm x 3.2 cm)
In northern Egypt the god Banebdjed was a ram headed deity who was the equivalent to the god Khnum, one of the oldest deities who is the source of the Nile River. Unlike Khnum, Banebdjed was lesser known, but had a cult following in Djedet (Mendes). He was worshiped for his fertility and virility; indeed, he was known as the Lord of Sexual Pleasure. In one myth, the god Ptah even took the form of Banebdjed to ensure a fruitful union with the mother of Rameses II. Greek and Roman provincial rule influenced the depictions of Banebdjed. In later periods his popularity grew, and he was often given billy-goat characteristics, as seen here, rather than ram -sheep. The Greek and Roman’s drew connections between the fertility symbolism of Banebdjed with their satyr god, Pan.
Cf. an agate example from the Ptolemaic or Roman Period at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 30.8.354
This piece has been searched against the Art Loss Register database and has been cleared. The Art Loss Register maintains the world's largest database of stolen art, collectibles, and antiques.
Provenance: ex-private West Hollywood, California, USA collection; ex-New Jersey collection assembled in the 1980s
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Losses to horns. Abrasion and stable fissure on neck. Stable hairline fissures within the base. Nice details throughout.