The Freud Museum

Falcon Reliquary

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3484, Falcon Reliquary, Late Period; 716-332 B.C.

Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Egyptian
Material: bronze
Dimensions: 5 x 2 5/8 x 7 in / 14.7 x 6.6 x 17.6 cm

This reliquary is in fact a still-sealed coffin for a sacrificed animal. Certain animals were held sacred to ancient Egyptians because of their association with particular deities. The falcon represents Horus, the sky god, and, with the double crown of a united Egypt, illustrates his victory over his father’s murderer, Seth.

In later dynasties, animal cults, such as the one dedicated to falcons, became increasingly popular and even had their own priesthoods. Pilgrims could purchase the ritually sacrificed and mummified remains of an animal, placed within a coffin, as offerings to a god. Thousands of such remains were interred in extensive underground galleries.

See this object on our Collections site here 

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