Gallery number: 24 – Ground Floor
Period: Late Period
Dynasty: 26th Dynasty, reign of Ahmose II (Amasis) Khnumibre, (c. 570-526 BC)
Size: H 89.00 cm W 21.00 cm D/L 46.00 cm
Place of discovery: Memphite Region, Saqqara: North, Horemheb Area, Psamtek
This statue of the goddess Isis was found together with two companion statues of the god Osiris JE 38928 and the goddess Hathor (JE 38927) in the tomb of Psamtek, a high official of the late 26th Dynasty, who bears many titles as the Overseer of the Seals and the Governor of the Palace. These three statues are superb examples of their era, specifically the reintroduction of Old Kingdom stylistic features such as the smooth and rounded surfaces that contrast with the very hard stone.
Isis was the goddess of motherhood, magic, fertility, healing and rebirth. According to the Heliopolis Ennead, Isis was the daughter of Geb, the god of the earth and goddess of the sky respectively, and was one of at least four siblings. She was also the sister/wife of Osiris, the god of the underworld and lord of eternity. Her brother Seth was the god of war, chaos and storms; and her sister Nephthys, wife of Seth, assisted in funerary rites, working with Isis in a protective role. In some versions of the mythology there is another brother, Horus the Elder (Horus the Great). Osiris was also the father of Horus (the younger).
According to Egyptian mythology, Osiris ruled Egypt, providing civilisation to his people through the knowledge of agriculture and the law. Seth was extremely jealous of his brother and killed him, dismembering and distributing the corpse throughout the many Nomes of Egypt. On the death of Osiris, Seth became king of Egypt with his sister/wife Nephthys. Isis mourned her husband, and with her great magical powers decided to find and bring him back to life. With the help of her sister Nephthys, Isis searched every Egyptian Nome, collecting the pieces of her husband’s corpse, reassembling and holding them together with linen wrappings. Isis breathed life back into his body to resurrected him and, soon conceived their child Horus (the younger). Osiris then descended into the underworld, where he became its ruler.
This statue depicts Isis seated on a throne, wearing a crown with the sun-disk enveloped by cow’s horns, indicating her association with the goddess Hathor. She is wearing a three-part wig that is held behind her ears, on which sits the uraeus cobra and she holds an ankh-sign symbol of life in her right hand. There is a clean simplicity in how her close-fitting tunic where even the straps of her dress are excluded, the only concession to clothing being the hem at the ankles. The base of the statue is inscribed with an offering prayer, while the back pillar of the statue is not inscribed.