Greywacke, agate, Egyptian alabaster; H. 3 1/2 in. (9 cm)
Purchase, Rogers and Fletcher Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1992 (1992.55)
This head of an antelope is a masterpiece of Late Period animal sculpture. The sculptor carved the hard, fine-grained stone so skillfully that the animal's delicate bone structure and soft skin are distinctly conveyed. The almond-shaped eyes have been inlaid with alabaster and banded agate, creating an especially alert and lifelike gaze. The horns, probably made of ivory or gilded wood, were once attached to the head with tenons. The head probably graced the prow of a ceremonial boat that stood in a temple sanctuary. Boats decorated with antelope heads were sacred to the god Sokar, who was the overseer of the desert and the royal cemeteries near Memphis, Egypt's capital in the north.
Another fine example of Late Period animal sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum is the statue of the god Horus as a falcon (34.2.1).