Period: Early Dynastic
Dynasty: Dynasty 1
Date: ca. 3100–2900 B.C.
Geography: From Egypt; Said to be from Southern Upper Egypt, Gebelein (Krokodilopolis)
Dimensions: L. 23.4 x H. 12 x W. 12.5 cm (9 3/16 x 4 3/4 x 4 15/16 in.)
Credit Line: Purchase, Fletcher Fund and The Guide Foundation Inc. Gift, 1966
Accession Number: 66.99.2
This powerful figure of a crouching lion belongs to the beginning of Egypt's historic period, when the process of integrating Upper and Lower Egypt into one centralized state was underway. The simplified sculptural treatment, with the tail curled over the back and the absence of a base, is typical of sculpture from this period, when the Egyptians were learning to master the art of carving in hard stone.
This statuette is said to have come from Gebelein, a site in Upper Egypt about twenty miles south of modern Luxor, where there was a temple to the goddess Hathor. Although best known as the goddess of love and beauty, Hathor was also a celestial mother goddess who often appears as a cow suckling the king. In her less benevolent aspect, she is represented as a lioness. It is possible that this statuette was a votive offering presented to the temple by the king.