Head of a figure of a lion deity measuring 3cm in height. The artefact has a hole in the top of its head, presumably for the insertion of a headdress. There are traces of an inked number on the bottom of the piece but it is too damaged to read.
A very similar, piece is described as coming from a room of a house in Meroe (See Török 1997, Vol 1, 205 and Vol. 2 pl. 168; below). The item in the Török volume is illustrated from a Garstang photograph and is so similar to EC451 that it is assumed that EC451 is the same item. Many thanks to the Garstang Museum of Archaeology, University of Liverpool for permission to use this photograph. However, EC451 is much worn compared to the original photograph and there thus remains a slight possibility that the two are different items.
Most of the items from this area of the house in the Meroe volume appear to be temple furniture or statues of divinities and personal ornaments. Török (1997, 1.205) describes the piece as probably Early Napatan, which dates it to 450-250BC.
The chief lion deity at Meroe was Apedmek, perhaps a form of Amun. It seems likely that this is the deity represented by this faience head.
EC451 was thus probably excavated by Garstang during his 1909-1914 excavations. As far as can be ascertained, the item came to Swansea University in 1971 along with the rest of the Wellcome items which now make up the core of the Egypt Centre, Swansea collection. However, it is not clear how the item was obtained by Sir Henry Wellcome. Various artefacts were given to subscribers to the excavation. The Egypt Centre has a handful of other artefacts from Meroe which are also from Garstang’s excavations. At least some of these were purchased by Sir Henry Wellcome from the MacGregor collection, part of which was sold in 1922 (Sotheby 1922, lot 1321). It is possible that this constitutes one of those items, though the item is not specifically described in the catalogue. It may, therefore, alternatively have either been given to Wellcome for subscription to the Meroe excavations, or may have been purchased from another collection.
Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge. 1922. Catalogue of the MacGregor Collection of Egyptian Antiquities, London.
Török, L. 1997. Meroe City. An Ancient African Capital. John Garstang’s Excavations in the Sudan. London: Egypt Exploration Society.