The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 38.

representing this object were found in excavations at Karnak. On the largest and most elaborate of these the object rests upon an ornate throne flanked by lions, with a pair of sphinxes taking the place of arms. Between the sides of the throne under the strange emblem is a small temple. The numerous minor decorations need not be described in detail. All three are miniature reproductions of a cult object; the height of the largest is 115 mm., of the smallest, 65 mm. All three have at the middle of the sack or bundle a socket in which a head of Amon was fixed.

These three monuments are thought to be of the late Persian or the early Ptolemaic period. A relief at Medinet Habu represents an unidentified Roman emperor (later than Nero) burning incense before the aniconic Amon, which in this instance also has the head of Amon fixed in its middle. This shows that knowledge of the strange cult object persisted to a time when it could be used by makers of amulets in the Graeco-Egyptian style. A much older conception of it appears on a New Kingdom stele from Asyut published by Wainwright in 1928. Here the object is rounder, less elongated, and only an upright feather marks it as representing a god. Wainwright shows good reasons for his belief that the sacred object was really a stone, probably meteoric, wrapped in a covering. The feather on the Asyut stele and the head on the other objects may then be different stages in an anthropomorphizing process. It may be suggested that that process was confined to models and pictures of the cult object and was motivated by a desire to make the sacred character of the thing represented quite unmistakable; the original object may have had no mark of divinity fixed to it. In any event, the shapeless object on the Walters gem probably represents the aniconic Amon. The obvious differences in other parts of the design, in particular the introduction of outlandish monsters instead of lions and sphinxes, offer no fatal objections to this view, for minor variations occur among the specimens examined by Daressy and Wainwright. The amulet makers were content to indicate the supporting structure schematically, and to compensate for its simplicity by the bizarre creatures on each side.

It remains uncertain whether there is any connection between the aniconic Amon and the other three stones, which show a throne or table with nothing but signs and symbols on it. The makers may have depended upon poor representations of the original, and taken the throne to be the important element, neglecting the strange lump that rested upon it. Certainly the monsters that accompany the throne seem to link all four stones together.

One of the most acute and learned writers on Graeco-Egyptian amulets, Delatte, said of the stone axe mentioned above; “Notre amulette nous permet de constater un phénomène beaucoup plus curieux: celui de la pénétration des mystères de Mithra par la religion égyptienne.”77 This observation does not represent the situation quite accurately. Some objects that are primarily Mithraic have had added to them elements that are derived from the religion and magic of Egypt and countries influenced by it; and magical papyri and

77 Musée Belge, 18, 10.

Last modified: 2012-07-03 15:13:56