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horusHorus Protecting King Nectanebo II
c.360–343 BC, 30th Dynasty, reign of Nectanebo II
Greywacke; H.71.1 cm, W.20.3 cm, D.45.7 cm
From the earliest dynasties, the ancient Egyptians believed that their king was divine, an incarnation of the great sky god Horus. The king ruled as the living Horus and the god was protector of the human king. This identification of king and god is represented in statuary as early as 4th Dynasty in a famous seated statue in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, that represents Menkaure with a falcon protectively spreading its wings around the back of the king's head. Some two thousand years later the same theme is depicted in this statue of Horus with King Nectanebo II, the last ruler of 30th Dynasty.

In this statue, Horus is represented as a fearsome bird of prey, with sharp eyes and dangerous talons. His double crown, symbolizing dominion over Upper and Lower Egypt, is graced with the rearing cobra, or uraeus, another divine protector of the ruler. The small figure of Nectanebo stands between the great talons, wearing a Nemes head cloth and uraeus. The statue can be read as a rebus for Nakht-Hor-heb, the Egyptian form of one of Nectanebo's names - his bent arm with the sword represents the hieroglyph nakht, the falcon represents Hor (Horus), and the hieroglyph in the king's right hand is heb.

The statue follows the late Dynastic period tradition of depicting animal images in hard stone with remarkably naturalistic details in head and feet, while the body and wings are simplified renderings of the bird's natural form.



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