Hollow-cast, copper alloy votive box, also known as relic-box or animal coffin; naomorphous case with narrow moulding near top, surmounted by a solid-cast figure of a coiled snake, looped over itself to form a figure of eight; corroded; underside of case missing (according to photo) and one of top corners of case broken; such case possibly previously contained a mummified snake (or parts of), probably empty now.
- Production date
- 500 BC - 300 BC (late 5th - early 4th century?)
Length: 12.40 centimetres
Width: 7.70 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Many votive boxes for snakes were discovered in Naukratis. According to Petrie, the cache of bronzes found in a building located in the southern part of the city provided fifteen of this category of votive boxes (Petrie 1886, 41-42). This specimen could originate from this cache that can be dated around the end of the 5th-beginning of the 4th century BC (Masson 2015). However, Griffith signalled in his notes from January 1885 several bronze reptile cases in a trench located outside the Great Temenos (Masson forthcoming b).
Votive boxes of this type were particularly associated with the solar god and demiurge Atum (Weiss 2012, 278). This specific type of snake votive box, with a coiled snake figure, belongs to the type T 14 in the typology of animal bronzes by K. Weiss (Weiss 2012, 727-731, Pl. 42d-e, Typ T 14, esp. Nr. 750-754, 758-762, 764-767 from Naukratis). The naomorphous (‘altar’ or ‘small shrine’-shaped) box is rare within the Naukratis corpus (on this shape, see Ikram 2005: 335).
Ikram, S. 2005, 'A Monument in Miniature: The Eternal Resting Place of a Shrew', in P. Jánosi (ed.), Structure and Significance: Thoughts on Ancient Egyptian Architecture, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna, 335-340.
Petrie, W. M. F. 1886, Naukratis. Part I, 1884-5 (Third Memoir of the Egypt Exploration Fund), London, 41-42.
Masson, A. 2015, ‘Cult and Trade. A reflexion on Egyptian metal offerings from Naukratis’, in D. Robinson and F. Goddio (eds), Thonis Heracleion in Context, Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology Monograph 8, Oxford, 71-88.
Masson, A. forthcoming b, ‘Naukratis: Egyptian offerings in context’, in M. Bergeron and A. Masson (eds), Naukratis in Context: Cults, Sanctuaries and Offerings, Proceedings of the Second Naukratis Project Workshop, held at the British Museum 22nd – 23rd June 2013.
Weiss, K. 2012, Ägyptische Tier- und Götterbronzen aus Unterägypten : Untersuchungen zu Typus, Ikonographie und Funktion sowie der Bedeutung innerhalb der Kulturkontakte zu Griechenland, Ägypten und Altes Testament 81, 278, 727-731, Pl. 42d-e and 75 f, Typ T 14 (Nr. 750, Pl. 42 and 75f for this specimen).
On this specimen see also American Numismatic Society Museum Notes 10, 1962, 78-79, pl. 16.4.
- Not on display
- Fair, though corroded and incomplete
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 86.265 (Accession Number)
Miscellaneous number: M.1056 (Metalworks ledger number)