A Brooklyn-Museum-led archaeological excavation in Egypt unearthed a more than 2,000-year-old gilded artifact that the country’s minister of culture deemed “a significant find” last week.
The extravagant relief, or lintel — discovered in early January at the museum’s ongoing excavation at the Temple Precinct of the Goddess Mut at South Karnak — is believed to have crowned the doorway of a religious structure.
“Some of the significance of the lintel is the quality of its carving and its gilding,” said archaeologist Richard Fazzini, who has run the excavation since its inception more than 20 years ago.
The 43-inch relief depicts a sun disk from which hang two uraeus-cobras — representations of the protective goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt — and a series of child-deities squatting atop lotus blossoms rising from water.
Facing these deities are two goddesses standing behind an altar-shaped table piled with food.
One goddess is a female Bes-image, with her hands in a gesture of adoration, the other a crowned, pregnant hippopotamus with a crocodile on her back and holding a hieroglyph for “protection.”
In ancient Egyptian iconography, the pregnant hippopotamus represents motherhood.
The lintel was transported to the Luxor Museum of Ancient Egyptian Art, where it will receive its final cleaning and conservation and where it will be placed on display.