Lion-Headed Deity With Atef Crown
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Lion-Headed Deity with Atef Crown
Work Type
statuette, sculpture
664-525 BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Africa, Egypt (Ancient)
Late Period, Dynasty 26
Level 3, Room 3740, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art
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Physical Descriptions
Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
67.8 cm h x 14 cm w x 26.7 cm d (26 11/16 x 5 1/2 x 10 1/2 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Leaded Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin, lead
Other Elements: iron
Comments: The eye and collar of this deity do not have detectable silver or gold. The main alloy has the same elements as 1943.1121.A.

K. Eremin, January 2014

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Bronze:
Cu, 80.45; Sn, 7.93; Pb, 11.25; Zn, 0.017; Fe, 0.2; Ni, 0.06; Ag, 0.02; Sb, 0.05; As, less than 0.10; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.012; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The lion-headed deity is a hollow lost-wax cast. The skirt is not completed at the back, and the legs behind the skirt end at the knees. Black core material is present in crevices of the base under the feet. Burial accretions, including a fragment of charcoal (0.5 x 1.0 cm), are also present under the base. Evidence of eight core pins is visible at the surface and in the x-radiographs: at the top of head, back, chest, both sides of the upper base, both sides of the lower base, and the front of the base. The rectangular pins ranged from 1.5 x 3.0 mm to 2.0 x 4.0 mm in size. The remains of a possibly ancient fabric are present at three sides of the interior of the base. The fluid nature of the fine incised lines in the surface indicates that they were drawn directly in the wax model.

The headdress is fractured off at its base, and the join at the break shows that it belongs to this sculpture. It is repaired with a modern brass pin. Crude cleaning abrasions are present at the legs and head. The patina is green with areas of brown and some red. Interior surfaces exhibit large areas of dark blue azurite and areas of a light bluish green identified by R. Gettens as chalconatronite.

Henry Lie (submitted 2000)

Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: in hieroglyphic, on the upper back of the throne: "Horus, the great god, Beḥdetite"
Ex collections Dourighello, W. Randolph Hearst, Grenville Lindall Winthrop.
Bought by Winthrop from Brummer Gallery, Inc. (NY) June 5, 1939 (Brummer inv. no. N4453); bill in file.
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Seated lion-headed figure (Sekhmet) (figure on right in image). Figure wears ankle length garment, broadcloth, and Uraeus crown. The crown consists of an incised cylinder to which is attached a flat, double-humped rectangular piece. A sphere surrounded by a flaring u-shaped roll deocrates the front of this raised part of the crown. The head of a uraeus extends from the cylinder, below the raised portion. The fur of the mane and muzzle is incised. The eyes may once have been inlaid with gold, now missing. Naked torso. Both arms bent at the elbow and rest near knees. Proper right hand extended, palm down. Proper left hand once held some sort of staff (ankh) and is attached to thigh by a support. Incised on the back of the throne is the image of a hawk enclosed by a box which is demarkated by a border. Below the hawk in a separate box demarkated by a similar border is an incised scene of a lion-headed figure in profile kneeling within an arch. The figure's outstretched hands grasp either side of the arch. Figure balances a sphere atop head. The figure kneels on a platform indicated by an incised line which balances atop a diamond. There is another incised scene on the side panel to the left of the base. The field is divided into two boxes demarkated by the same border as in the previous scenes, the lower of which is filled with a narrow geometric design. In the upper box is an incised depiction of the lion-headed figure sitting in profile upon a lotus flower from which extend seven smaller blooms from each side of the flower. The effect of these flowers is a lotus flower boat in which the lion-headed figure rides. The figure again balances a sphere atop her head. There are a few hieroglyphs in the upper right field. A similar scene decorates the side panel to the right of the base. The scene is again divided into two boxes demarkated by the same border. The lower box includes the same narrow geometric design. The upper box depicts a lion-headed figure in profile sitting in a similar lotus-boat. This time the figure wears the crown of upper and lower Egypt on her head, not a sphere. There is a hieroglyph in the upper left field. Green patina. One of a pair.
Publication History

Dows Dunham, "The Egyptian Antiquities", Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum (1943), Vol. 10, No. 2, 40-43

Clifford Frondel, "On Paratacamite and Some Related Copper Chlorides", Mineralogical Magazine (1950), Vol. 42, 34-45, p. 42.

Rutherford John Gettens and Clifford Frondel, "Chalconatronite: An Alteration Product on Some Ancient Egyptian Bronzes", Studies in Conservation (1955), Vol. 2, No. 2, 64-75

Clifford Frondel and Rutherford John Gettens, "Chalconatronite, a new Mineral from Egypt", Science (1955), Vol. 122, No. 3158, 75-76, p. 75.

Jacques Vandier, “Quadjet et l’Horus léontocéphale de Bouto", Monuments et Memoires, Fondation Eugène Piot (1967), Vol. 255, 17-21, figs. 3a, 4.

Dorothy W. Gillerman, Gridley McKim-Smith, and Joan R. Mertens, Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1969), p. 256 (checklist).

Rutherford John Gettens, "Patina: Noble and Vile", Art and Technology: a Symposium on Classical Bronzes, ed. Suzannah F. Doeringer, David Gordon Mitten, and Arthur Steinberg, M.I.T. Press (Cambridge, MA, 1970), 57-68, p. 63.

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), p. 94, no. 102, ill.

Séan Hemingway and Julie Wolfe, "Art and Technology: The Study of Ancient Bronzes at the Harvard University Art Museums into the 21st Century", Proceedings of the XVth International Congress of Classical Archaeology, Amsterdam, July 12-17, 1998, ed. Ronald F. Docter and Charlotte Moormann, Allard Pierson Series (Amsterdam, 1999), 196-99, p. 197.

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/Handbook, exh. cat. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2008)

Exhibition History

Re-View: S422 Ancient & Byzantine Art & Numismatics, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/12/2008 - 06/18/2011

Ancient to Modern, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 06/01/2013

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

Related Works
Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted