Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Margaret Swaney
Meg Swaney is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University studying Egyptian Art and Archaeology. She also holds a master's degree in Museum Studies from New York University ('13), where her research focused on the ethics of displaying Egyptian mummies, as well as a bachelor's degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago ('11).

Barking Up the Wrong Tree: Surprising Identity of an Egyptian Jackal-Headed Figurine

2006DObject 2006 D at the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum represents a small, jackal-headed figurine wearing a pleated robe.  It has been variously identified as a 19th Dynasty terracotta figurine of Anubis for a canopic jar and conversely as a wooden figurine of Duamutef with similar funerary associations.  However, a technical analysis of the object’s composition and production method utilizing UV radiation, X-ray fluorescence, and X-radiography as well as an art historical study of its unique iconographic form reveal the figure may not in fact be funerary in nature.  These analyses suggest 2006 D is a Greco-Roman terracotta figurine of an Anubis priest that would have functioned as a cult image in a domestic shrine embodying the ritual efficacy of an Isiac festival.  As such, the figurine elaborates Anubis’ role in the Greco-Roman pantheon and offers insights into the most important concerns of Egypt’s ethnically mixed population during this period.


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