Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Black siltstone base and lid of the anthropoid sarcophagus of Sasobek, northern vizier of Egypt during the reign of Psamtek I: the lid is finely carved, showing the deceased wearing wig, beard and collar and with two vertical registers of hieroglyphic offering texts, surmounted by a figure of Nut.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 600BC (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 225 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Comment

        Two vertical registers of hieroglyphs.
  • Curator's comments

    Strudwick N 2006
    The heyday of the anthropoid stone sarcophagus was after 700 BC, in the Late Period. Sasobek's sarcophagus is one of the finest examples of its type to have survived. It is of a relatively unusual type - finely detailed false divine beards are uncommon on such sarcophagi. Many other examples of this period display rather exaggerated wide facial features, but Sasobek's face is naturalistic (although not a portrait) and serene. The large ears may hint at some archaizing inspiration from monuments of the Middle Kingdom. The sarcophagus is in a superb state of preservation, having suffered damage only to the tip of the beard and the left side of the wig. Sasobek holds the djed pillar of Osiris in his right hand and the knot of Isis in his left. These amuletic symbols would grant him the stability and protection associated with the two deities. A broad collar runs across his shoulders, and below his hands is a kneeling winged figure of the goddess Nut, with her arms spread protectively across the body. Below the goddess are two columns of hieroglyphs, consisting of offering formulae, names, and titles.

    The style of the sarcophagus suggests a date in the middle of the seventh century BC or a little later. Sasobek's principal title was that of vizier, and it seems most likely that he served in the reign of Psamtek I (664-610 BC). The provenance of this sarcophagus is less than certain. Thebes has been suggested as one possibility, although very few stone sarcophagi of this date have been unambiguously identified as coming from there, and this seems most unlikely. Similar sarcophagi come from the Memphite necropolis, and Sais, the city from which Psamtek's family came, has also been suggested; one of Sasobek's titles associates him with Neith, the goddess of Sais, although this does not necessarily indicate a Saite provenance. Sasobek's son Horwedja is known from a statue in Baltimore (Walters Art Gallery 154); he bears titles associated with both the Memphite region and with Neith.


  • Bibliography

    • James 1988 fig. 31 bibliographic details
    • Quirke & Spencer 1992 fig. 33 bibliographic details
    • James 1992 fig. 74 bibliographic details
    • Taylor 1996 p. 45 bibliographic details
    • Porter and Moss 1934 p. 48 bibliographic details
    • Putnam 1990 p. 59 bibliographic details
    • James and Davies 1983 p. 59, fig. 65 bibliographic details
    • Spencer 1982 pl. 29 bibliographic details
    • Buhl 1959 pp. 120- 121 bibliographic details
    • Strudwick 2006 pp.266- 267 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G4/B5

  • Condition


  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • ES.17
COMPASS Title: Siltstone sarcophagus of Sasobek


COMPASS Title: Siltstone sarcophagus of Sasobek

Image description



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