The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 232.

over the mummy's feet (D. 350). The mummy is wound with bandages making a lozenge pattern, and a disk rests upon its head. It is apparently Osiris. A crowned hawk is perched over the snake's head, and there is a scarab in the field above its tail. The reverse is inscribed with the common magical words, not all accurately written, χυχ βαχυχ βαχακαξιχυχ βαδητοφων αβαρσαξ Ιαω ωαι.

Two similar gems are known, but no illustrations of them are available. One in the Southesk collection (N 62) differs in some insignificant details — the hawk is over the legs of the mummy and there is no scarab. The other, in the British Museum (56412388) has two hawks on the snake's neck and in the field a scarab, a star, and a crescent moon. The reverse is inscribed Δαμναμενευ.

The design of these stones, the dead Osiris guarded by a serpent, seems to be a survival from dynastic times. I am not acquainted with any exact parallel in the earlier art, but there is an analogous vignette in The Book of What Is in Hades. In his study of that work Jéquier says:14

“Dans la même chambre nous trouvons encore une singulière image du dieu Khepra, montrant nettement l'idée que se faisaient les Égyptiens de la renaissance de l'âme et de sa réunion au corps: le signe des chairs IMG sous ses pieds. Le dieu, saisissant un scarabée placé au-dessus de sa tête, est étendu sur le dos d'un grand serpent à cinq têtes, vers l'une desquelles vient aboutir sa queue, enveloppant ainsi le dieu de ses replis. À elle seule, cette image est un résumé de la doctrine contenue dans notre livre entier; c'est la transformation du dieu mort en un soleil nouveau, à l'abri de Mehen le serpent protecteur, qui va à l'heure suivante sur la barque.”


A curious problem is presented by three stones that show a man holding the neck and tail of a great serpent, which encircles his body with one coil. It is evidently the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent-Holder. The most elaborately executed of the three is a haematite in the British Museum, set in a modern ring (D. 351). The work is rather crude, but the lapidary has taken the trouble to set, as nearly as possible, the right number of stars in the proper places on the man's body. He seems, in fact, to have followed a traditional arrangement closely resembling the description of the constellation by Eratosthenes, who places the stars thus:15 a bright star on Ophiuchus' head, a bright star on each shoulder; three stars on the left arm, four on the right, one on each hip, one on each knee, ‹one on the right shin, one on each foot›16 — seventeen in all. There are seventeen stars in the Ophiuchus of the

14 Bibl. des hautes études, 97 (1894), 84. Müller (p. 105, fig. 103) shows a similar picture of the four-headed serpent of the abyss encircling the infant sun-god.

15 Eratosthenis Catasterismorum Reliquiae, rec. C. Robert, p. 70.

16 These words are not in the Greek text, but are supplied from other source which drew upon the lost original.

Last modified: 2012-11-02 13:54:24