Egyptian - Sarcophagus for a Serpent, 9th century BC - 4th century BC

Egyptian

Sarcophagus for a Serpent, 9th century BC - 4th century BC

Cast bronze, 2 x 6.8 x 3 cm (13/16 x 2 11/16 x 1 3/16 in.)

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Object details

Accession number

M11n24

Provenance

Possibly purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner during her travels in Egypt, September 1874 - April 1875.


Rights and reproductions

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Commentary

The coiled snake that rests atop this diminutive bronze box indicates that it is a sarcophagus for a serpent. Ancient Egyptians believed in the rebirth of the soul after death, and tombs were often filled with objects that would aid the deceased in their transition from the earthly to the spiritual realm. Snakes, which shed their skin, functioned as symbols of rebirth. This made them appropriate companions for one who wished to be resurrected in the afterlife.

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