Ptolemaic Painted Panel Depicting Isis from the Back of a Wooden Sarcophagus

SKU X.0445
Circa

3rd Century BC – 2nd Century BC

Dimensions

37.5″ (95.3cm) high x 12″ (30.5cm) wide

Medium

Wood

Origin

Egypt

Gallery Location

USA


 

Following the death of Alexander the Great, his empire was divided between his three generals, each of whom set up their own kingdoms. One of them, Ptolemy, took Egypt as his share and made Alexandria his capital. Ruling as Ptolemy I Soter, he established the last dynasty to rule Egypt with the title of Pharaoh. For the next two and a half centuries, the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Greeks controlled Egypt, mingling Hellenic traditions with the mighty legacy of the Pharaohs.

Isis was the bride of Osiris, the mother of Horus, the healer, the protector of women, the winged goddess able to grant immortality. The word, “Isis,” is actually the Greek version of her older Egyptian name, Aset or Eset, revealing that she remained a popular deity during the Ptolemaic period, associated with Demeter. The legend of Osiris states that his brother Seth, overcome by jealousy, murdered him and tore his body into fourteen parts, scattering them across Egypt. Isis traversed the land and gathered all the parts of his body. She then cast a spell that resurrected her deceased husband for one night, during which their child, Horus, was conceived. Thus, Isis was one of the central figures of Egyptian religion, the healer, the giver of life.

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