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The crocodile god Sobek.

Impressive Collection of Statuettes Depicting Ancient Gods Discovered in Egypt


A collection of ancient figurines and statuettes has been discovered in the Tel Al-Tabla archaeological site in the Dakahliya governorate of Egypt. The artifacts are related to the deities of ancient Egypt.

According to Ahram Online, during the excavations archaeologists followed previous works at the Greco-Roman cemetery. Among the typical artifacts found in such a place, such as alabaster amulets and clay pots, they unearthed an unusual collection of figurines.

The statuettes are carved in mud-brick and, although not all of them were identified, it is sure that among them is the statue of Sobek - the crocodile god and one of the most important deities in ancient history near the Nile River.

Moreover, a collection of bronze, faience, and ivory jewels were also found at the site. All of the artifacts were dated to the Greco-Roman period.

Statuette of what archaeologists say was an ancient Egyptian fish god

Statuette of what archaeologists say was an ancient Egyptian fish god. (Xinhua/Egyptian Ministry of Antiquity)

The discovered objects have been stored in Dakahliya's archaeological galleries for restoration. The site is located close to the ancient cities Avaris and Tanis, in the Delta of Nile.

Sobek, the Powerful God of the Nile

Sobek was a deity strongly connected with the Nile river. He was associated with the power of the Nile crocodile, and thus represented as a crocodile or a human with the head of a crocodile. Sobek, like the animal which portrayed him, was a frightening god for the ancient Egyptians, and he was believed to be very strong and mysterious.

Sobek’s existence was an allegory to the pharaoh’s power and military power in general, but also to fertility and protection against the dangers around the borders of Egypt as well as inside the country.

Mummified crocodiles that were offered to Sobek by worshippers.

Mummified crocodiles that were offered to Sobek by worshippers. (Fanny Schertzer/ CC BY SA 4.0)

Sobek was a very important deity all over Egypt, but especially in the Faiyum region (central Egypt) and Kom Ombo, in southern Egypt. The capital of his cult – Crocodilopolis (Greek), known also as Shedet (in the ancient Egyptian language), was found in the Faiyum region. Nowadays, the city El-Faiyum is found in its place (which is still the capital of the region.)

A relief of Sobek from a temple at Kom Ombo.

A relief of Sobek from a temple at Kom Ombo. (Hedwig Storch/ CC BY SA 3.0)

Sobek was believed to be a son of Seth and Neith. His father, Seth was a god of violence, foreigners, storms, deserts, and disorders. Sobek's mother, Neith was one of the oldest deities of Ancient Egypt, and related to many different attributes including war, hunting, and the underworld.

The temples of Sobek were very popular, especially during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. The Book of the Faiyum compiled multiple stories dated to the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods (332 BC- 359 AD), in which Sobek was also identified with the sun-god Ra, and appears as Sobek-Ra. It connects him also with the traditional myth of creation linked to Hermopolis, and makes him a late manifestation of Ra.

A collection of impressive ancient mummified Nile crocodiles was found located 48 km (30miles) to the north from Aswan temple in Kom Ombo (built 332 BC). Unfortunately, the temple was damaged in September 2015 by strong winds.

The Treasure of Dakahliya

During the last excavation seasons, Dakahliya has been noted as a very interesting place which still hides many secrets. In 2014, the Egyptian mission discovered another mud-brick treasure. That time it was a mastaba, which contained a limestone anthropoid sarcophagus of a lady called Werty (the daughter of Rtrs), along with a large collection of 180 ushabti figurines carved in wood and limestone.

Archaeologists also discovered three skeletons, a collection of more than700 ushabti figurines and two tombs. The skeletons were dated to the Late Period. Several amulets connected with the gods Amun, Horus, and Neftis were also found. Another group of amulets contained a scarab and the Udjat Eye of Horus.

Ushabti figurines found in Dakahliya in 2014

Ushabti figurines found in Dakahliya in 2014. (Nevine El-Aref)

A mummy discovered inside one of the three coffins created a sensation. It was covered with gilded cartonnage and decorated with hieroglyphic inscriptions containing the cartouche of the pharaoh Psamtiak from the 26th Dynasty. The mummy discovered inside the coffin was in very bad condition because of high levels of humidity.

Tel El-Tabila is a necropolis of the Third Intermediate Period and the Late Period in the history of ancient Egypt. Most of the graves are dated between the 22nd and 26th dynasties. It was a period of rule by the Black Pharaohs, a time of big change in Egypt. The dynasties of this period tried to bring back the greatness of the New Kingdom and the authority of the Ramesside dynasty.

Featured Image: The crocodile god Sobek. Source: Ministry of Antiquities

By Natalia Klimczak



Natalia Klimczak is an historian, journalist and writer and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Languages, University of Gdansk. Natalia does research in Narratology, Historiography, History of Galicia (Spain) and Ancient History of Egypt, Rome and Celts. She... Read More

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