Ivory inlay of Taweret

Classic Kerma
about 1700–1550 B.C.

Findspot: Nubia (Sudan), Kerma, K309


Height x width x depth: 8.6 x 4.5 x 0.3 cm (3 3/8 x 1 3/4 x 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World



This ivory inlay piece, which would have adorned a wooden fixture such as a funerary bed, depicts the upper half of Taweret, facing right with a knife. The image is somewhat stylised with lightly incised details to indicate the mouth, arm, and one pendulous breast. There are two prominent breaks that have been mended, one at the front of the mouth and another down the front of the torso.

Taweret (literally: “the great one”) was an especially popular goddess in the domestic sphere throughout pharaonic times. She was conceived as having the body and head of a pregnant hippo, paws of a lion, and back/tail of a crocodile. She was considered a protective deity especially for expecting and birthing mothers as well as young children. Her images appear on many household fixtures such as beds, chairs, and headrests, all of which can also be found as funerary items. She became known outside of Egypt as well, appearing in Nubia (as with this object) and Crete.


From Kerma, K309. December 1913: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Sudan.
(Accession Date: March 1, 1920)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition