Of all the Egyptian goddesses Isis is thebest-known to a modern public. TheGreeks recognised Demeter or Aphro-dite in her. Before the arrival of Alexan-der the Great, her cult had alreadyspread outside Egypt. Isis was wor-shipped on Delos and other islands inthe Aegean as early as the ﬁfth centuryBC. A hundred years later the cultreached Piraeus, the port of Athens.Over the next centuries, the worship ofIsis spread from Greece to the Italianpeninsula, the Black Sea coast, Arabia,northern Africa, and Spain. During theImperial Age, Isis temples were erectedeven across the empire’s borders: alongthe Danube and the Rhine, and as far asBritain. To sum up, Isis was one of themost revered deities of the Romanperiod.Here we see the goddess as she wasrepresented at that time. Her stance istypically Egyptian, the left leg forward.She is wearing a richly draped garmentthat is knotted with a loop between thebreasts and over her right shoulder downto the lower leg. Despite the folds, hernipples and navel are visible through thefabric, as was usual in Egyptian art.
Isis is wearing a long wig with a vulture capover it. On top of that, she has a compos-ite crown, consisting of a high modius (cylindrical head-dress) made of cobras,with stylised cow’s horns and two curledhigh ostrich feathers emerging from it.The horns enclose a sun disk over which the uraeus (the upright cobra, a royalsymbol) is twisting forward.This crown combines elements that origi-nally belonged to other Egyptian god-desses: the feathers of Maat, personiﬁ-cation of truth and order; the sun diskand horns of the heavenly cow, Hathor;the bird cap of the vulture goddessNekhbet, patron of Upper Egypt; thecobra of the snake goddess Wadjyt,protectress of Lower Egypt. These attrib-utes, together with the hairstyle anddress, belonged to a queen’s attire sincethe New Kingdom (1550–1070 BC). Sothe goddess is portrayed as a heavenlyqueen here: Isis Regina.Isis’s right arm is missing, but it is plausi-ble that she had a sistrum (ritual rattle)or possibly an erect cobra in her hand.Her left hand is holding a lotus ﬂower,the source of new life. A small ﬁgure isseated on it, naked, one leg folded underit, the other bent forward. This is Harpo-crates (‘Horus the Child’), son of Isis and Osiris. He is touching his lower lip withhis right index ﬁnger, a typical gesture inEgyptian pictures of children. His left armis holding a badly weathered object thatprobably is a cornucopia or a statuetteof Horus. He has a child’s single lock ofhair and wears a sun disk on his shavenhead.The goddess’ asymmetric face and thegeneral style of this bronze statuettereveal its Roman origins. Isis was notdepicted wearing a knotted garmentbefore the Graeco-Roman period; thestanding composition, combined with thelotus ﬂower, likewise emerged during theGraeco-Roman Age. Harpocrates’ pose,moreover, belongs to Hellenistic iconog-raphy. This image of Isis Regina, omnipo-tent ruler of the universe, thus combinestraditional Egyptian elements with Hel-lenistic and Roman characteristics
|Period||Ancient Roman Art|
|Place||Allard Pierson Museum (Visit)|
This is a very tall print that requires supports and a brim. It has a tough time standing on it's own and requires sanding on the the feet for stability.