Statue of Osiris, god of the Afterlife

Artefact Details

Gallery number: 24 – Ground Floor

Period: Late Period

Dynasty: 26th Dynasty, reign of Ahmose II (Amasis) Khnumibre, (c. 570-526 BC)

Place of discovery: Memphite Region, Saqqara: North, Horemheb Area, Psamtek

Size: H 89.50 cm W 28.00 cm D/L 46.00 cm

Material: Greywacke

This statue of the god Osiris was found together with two companion statues of the goddesses Isis (JE 38929) and 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.

Osiris was the god of the deceased, master of the underworld, afterlife and lord of eternity. According to the Heliopolis Ennead, Osiris was the son of Geb and Nut, the god of the earth and the goddess of the sky respectively, and was one of at least four siblings. He was also the brother/husband of Isis, the goddess of motherhood, magic, fertility, healing and rebirth. His brother Seth was the god of war, chaos and storms; and his sister Nephthys, wife of Seth, assisted in funerary rites, working with her sister 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 Osiris sitting on a throne in a mummified form wearing a close-fitting enveloping garment, a divine beard attached to his chin, and the Atef crown flanked by two ostrich feathers, adorned with the uraeus cobra. He holds the royal crook and flail with his arms crossed on his chest. The base of the statue is inscribed with an offering prayer, while the back pillar of the statue is not inscribed.