Description This steatite ovoid is incised with a horizontally arranged bottom design of a hawk-headed sphinx (?) with a long raised tail. The top displays a pattern with two central, parallel lines and two sets of 'V'-shaped lines on each side. The back and sides are not standardized, and the deeply incised lines vary slightly in depth and thickness. The layout of the top is balanced. The shape of the figure on the bottom is intentionally irregular. The different positions of the legs and open pick demonstrate the energy of the scene. The back is carefully made, and the bottom is more rough. Objects such as this may have an amuletic rather than an administrative seal function. The amulet should secure divine/royal power, and provide magical protection for its owner. The mammal motifs of Syro-Palestine ovoids represent usually antelopes, lions, unidentifiable quadrupeds, or fabulous creatures. This figure combines the body of a lion with a hawk head, and has to be identifed as sphinx. It combines divine and royal aspects, and therefore heavenly and earthly protection.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1929
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