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Carnelian Ptolemaic intaglio , ca second century B.C. featuring Isis, a canopic jar and Horus all together symbolical of the resurrection, rebirth and the afterlife. Ptolemaic intaglios are rare. Size of bezel 17 x 16 mm. Ring size :”Q” +1/2 = US “8”+1/2 weight of ring 13.5 gram
Isis a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patron of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans, and the downtrodden, and she listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats, and rulers. Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus, the hawk-headed god of war and protection, and she is depicted suckling him in an attitude similar to that of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus.
The name Isis means “Throne”. Her headdress is a throne. As the personification of the throne, she was an important representation of the pharaoh’s power. The pharaoh was depicted as her child, who sat on the throne she provided. Her cult was popular throughout Egypt, but the most important sanctuaries were at Behbeit El-Hagar in the Nile delta, and, beginning in the reign with Nectanebo I (380–362 BCE), on the island of Philae in Upper Egypt.
She married her brother, Osiris, and she conceived Horus by him. Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Seth. Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Seth.
This myth became very important during the Greco-Roman period. For example it was believed that the Nile River flooded every year because of the tears of sorrow which Isis wept for Osiris. Osiris’s death and rebirth was relived each year through rituals. The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era. The original form of the myth states that Osiris was killed by a wooden sarcophagus secretly being made to his measurements by Set, who was jealous of Osiris’s position as Pharaoh, and so plotted to kill him and take his place. A party had been held where the coffin was offered to whoever could fit inside. A few people tried to fit in, but to no avail. Osiris was encouraged to try, but as soon as he lay back, the lid slammed on him and was locked. It was then sealed with lead and thrown into the Nile river. Upon hearing that Osiris was gone, Isis set out to look for him. She was afraid that without proper ceremonies and burial Osiris would not be able to go to the place of the dead. She later learned that the coffin had floated down the Nile river up to the coast of Byblos (now in modern day Lebanon) and became embedded in the trunk of a cedar tree. She also learned that the cedar tree had been taken and used as a pillar to support a palace for the king of Byblos. When traveling back, along the Nile River, she left the coffin in an area of marshland. Set, while hunting, found Osiris’s coffin and dismembered him into 14 parts, scattering them across the land of Egypt.
Once again Isis set out to look for the pieces and she was able to find 13 of the 14 parts, with the help of Nephthys, Seth’s sister-wife, but was unable to find the 14th, as it had been eaten by a fish. Instead, she fashioned a phallus out of gold and sang a song around Osiris until he came back to life.
Osiris was resurrected. He could have proper ceremonies and burial. All this is represented on this intaglio.
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- Listed by: Peter Szuhay
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