Circa: 664 BC to 525 BC
Dimensions: 2" (5.1cm) high x 2.5" (6.4cm) wide
Style: 26th Dynasty
This object is a flat-backed plaque depicting the right facing head of a ram in high relief. The horn of the ram is re-curved and curls around the ear toward the front of its face. The profile is aristocratic, helped by the high nasal bones and small ears that characterise many North African domestic and wild sheep breeds. The details of the ear particularly the treatment of the hair in the area from which it springs from the head the tear duct anterior to the eye, and the mouth-nostrils are meticulously observed and executed. The entire object is modelled in broad planes to which linear detail has been added. The facial aspect is smooth clay: the horns and long hair at the neck level are in stronger relief. Without either an accompanying inscription or distinctive specific attribute, it is difficult to identify the deity to which this particular ram carving was intended to relate. Candidates include Khnum (who, as potter, fashioned mankind on the potters wheel), Amun (whose depiction as a ram is demonstrated by the avenues of ram-headed sphinxes in Thebes) and Bad-neb-djed, the ram-headed god of Mendes (the capital of Egypt during Dynasty XXIX). Our ram may well represent any one of these deities. In style and technique, our terracotta plaque finds its closest stylistic parallels in limestone plaques that are often termed sculptors models, with the understanding they were maquettes for larger works, However, they may in fact have served as votive offerings in their own right. Limestone versions are usually dated to the Late Period, but stylistic comparisons with related artefacts including an example in Boston seem to suggest a date somewhere in the Ptolemaic Period. In essence, however, our plaque is unique. This is an exceptionally beautiful, perfectly executed and very rare artefact that will appeal to anyone with interests in ancient Egyptian artworks.