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HOME : Egyptian Antiquities : Archive : Egyptian Granite Relief Fragment From Behbeit el-Hagar
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Egyptian Granite Relief Fragment From Behbeit el-Hagar - X.0008
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 380 BC to 280 BC
Dimensions: 32.125" (81.6cm) high
Collection: Egyptian
Style: Ptolemaic Period
Medium: Granite

Additional Information: SOLD. Art Logic--Safani Gallery Inc. (New York) 2003

Location: United States
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The village of Behbeit el-Hagar marks the site of an important, though now destroyed, temple known to the Greeks as the Iseion. Little is known about the early history of the site; however, it is believed that there may have been a structure there from the late Saite Period. Main construction of the temple may have started under the pharaoh of the 30th Dynasty and work was continued and completed under the Greek kings of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. The main element of the temple was a sanctuary dedicated to the Goddess Isis, although smaller chapels apparently dedicated to the resurrection and worship of Osiris surrounded it. It is unknown why the temple collapsed, although an ancient earthquake may have been the cause. Yet it is believed to have been destroyed by the 1st century A.D., for certain blocks from the temple have been found in other structures dating from this era. Today, ruins of massive mudbricks demarcate the wall that once surrounded the structure while only tumbled masses of granite blocks remain to define the position of the temple. These granite relief panels are noted for their fine craftsmanship, with much finer detailing than most Ptolemaic period temples. This impressive fragment, rendered in low sunken relief, depicts two fertility figures advancing to the right, holding the was- scepters, hes-vases and hetep signs, while walking beneath a star spangled sky. Their faces are shown in right profile, wearing the tripartite wig, and their broad shoulders are depicted frontally, each with left breast sagging and a swollen belly. It can be assumed from the iconography of the temple that these women relate to the cult of Isis. Although the temple once known as the Iseion has long lain in ruins, fragments such as this work attest to the masterful artistry of this sacred building and help conjure up the grandeur of this ancient temple. - (X.0008)


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