Falcon-headed crocodile
Late period. 664 - 332 BCE
Indurated limestone, length 14 3/16 in (36 cm)
Cairo Egyptian Museum, JE 21858
?HeruWer, aka Horus the Elder?

Egyptologists aren't sure which deity this represents. "A second candidate for this statue is Her-wer, or Horus the Elder, a New Kingdom (1550-1069 BCE) deity who was sometimes represented as a crocodile with a falcon head, in particular at another marshy site, Kom Ombo. [...]

"Regardless of the exact deity being represented here, it is clear from its body that reference is being made to the ferocity and strength of the crocodile. However, the protective nature of the falcon is also invoked by the god's head, perhaps taming the dangerous tendencies of the crocodile..."
(Elizabeth Waraksa, The Quest for Immortality, (Publishing Office, National Gallery of Art, 2002), page 188)

Taming, or more precisely, it is directing the fierce strength via the supreme vision of the falcon. The falcon head, as emblem of the ruler, is symbolizing that the head must rule. If the 'tail' rules, blind destruction may result.

(Sketched from the photo in this book, the exhibition catalog for an exhibit featuring over a hundred pieces from the museums in Cairo and Luxor which toured the states from 2002 to 2007.)

© Joan Ann Lansberry, September, 2012