Sphinx of Taharqo

From Temple T at Kawa, Sudan, Kushite, about 680 BC

Sphinxes represent the immense power of the Egyptian king. The human head of this sphinx is adorned with two uraei, the symbols of kingship. The mane around the neck is characteristically carved with care.

The face is that of Taharqo, whose name appears on the cartouche on the chest. Taharqo was one of the rulers of Kush who dominated Egypt as the Twenty-fifth Dynasty (about 747-656 BC).

Although the basic form of this sphinx is Egyptian, several features set it apart. Most striking are the facial features of the king which leave no doubt that he is an African. The Kushite kings were proud of their ancestry and chose to be buried in Kush near their religious centre at Jebel Barkal.

This statue was found in Temple T at Kawa, in Upper Nubia (Sudan). Kawa was the home of a local form of the great Egyptian state god Amun. The kings of the Kush built temples there, with the intention of ensuring Amun's prominence. Temple T was constructed by Taharqo between 684 and 680 BC.


Ancient Sudan

Sudan

Sudan is the largest country in Africa and is home to the oldest sub-Saharan African kingdom, the kingdom of Kush (about 2,500-1,500 BC).
 

Ancient Sudan world culture


Ancient Egypt

papyrus

Towards the end of the fourth millennium BC independent city-states unified to begin of over 3,000 years of pharaonic civilisation in the Nile Valley.

Ancient Egypt world culture

Third Intermediate period

 Kushite period


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Sphinx of Taharqo

Sphinx of Taharqo

 

More information

Bibliography

T.G.H. James and W.V. Davies, Egyptian sculpture (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)

M. Caygill, The British Museum A-Z compani (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)

J.H. Taylor, Egypt and Nubia (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

M.F. Laming Macadam, The temples of Kawa (Oxford, 1949 (vol. I) 1955 (vol. II))

Dimensions

Height: 40.6 cm
Length: 73 cm

 

Museum number

EA 1770

YCA64399

 

Excavated by Prof Francis Llewellyn Griffith

Location

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Related products

Book

A History of the World in 100 objects

 
By Neil MacGregor

Accompanies the BBC Radio 4 series




This object features in A History of the World in 100 objects


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