Cynocephalus (Baboon)

Inv. Scu 32

This statue, carved from a single block of grey granite, depicts a cynocephalus, in other words a baboon, an ancient Egyptian deity associated with Thot.

The baboon is seated on its hind legs, with the fore-paws resting on its knees. The fur covering the upper section of the body is rendered as a smooth mantle. In the sockets, now empty, were inserted eyes of another material.

A fragmented hieroglyphic inscription on the front part of the base refers to the Pharaoh Nekhtnebef II, who reigned between BC 359 and 341, here presented as son of Osiris and beloved of Thot. The sculpture can be dated to the mid 4th century BC (30th Dinasty).

The inscription may suggest that the statue, along with its companion now displayed at its right, had originally been placed in a monument strictly related to Nectanebo II, either his sepulchral chamber or, more likely, a Temple of Thot; the temple has been identified either with that dedicated by Nectanebo I in Hermopolis Parva, or that in Busiris on the Western Delta.
Both statues were transfered to Rome presumably in the early imperial age and were placed in the Iseum in Campus Martius. They were found in 1883 in Via di Sant’Ignazio (now Via del Beato Angelico), near Santa Maria sopra Minerva , the seat of the ancient Iseum.