Head of a ram

Nubian
Classic Kerma
1700–1550 B.C.


Findspot: Nubia (Sudan), Kerma, Tumulus K III

Dimensions

Height x width x thickness: 9.4 x 10.6 x 8.3 cm (3 11/16 x 4 3/16 x 3 1/4 in.)

Accession Number

20.1180

Medium or Technique

Glazed quartz

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

Animal figures of blue-glazed quartz are particular to Kerma artwork. The ram’s head, whose blue glaze has almost totally disappeared, still exhibits on the left side the tip of a horn winding around the ear. This type of horn was emblematic of the ram form of the god Amun, attested in Egypt since the New Kingdom. It is now generally thought that Amun probably adopted his ram form from the kingdom of Kerma.
Because of the absence of writing in the Kerma Culture, no identification of this supposed indigenous Nubian ram god is possible. The great significance of the ram in the religious conceptions at Kerma, however, is impressively displayed in the outfitting of tombs with sacrificial rams with elaborately decorated horns and spherical crowns of ostrich feathers affixed to their heads.
Until Meroitic times, the standard form of the Nubian/Sudanese Amun is that of the god with double-plumed crown that was prevalent in Egypt. When Amenophis III (in Soleb) and Ramses II (in Abu Simbel, as well as in his other Nubian temples) represented themselves in deified form, they added the ram’s horn to the crowns they wore.
The modeling of this head portrays the characteristic features of the animal in the most understated fashion. It is not clear if it once belonged to the figure of a ram or to a criosphinx. (Sudan catalogue)

Provenance

From Kerma, Tum. K III, Comp. 17/3. December, 1913: excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; 1920: assigned to the MFA by the government of the Sudan.

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition

Copyright

Photographer: Jurgen Liepe