Two snakes are here depicted within a naos (a type of shrine). The one on the right has a beard and wears the atef crown, the one on the left a crown of the sundisc between horns. Between them is a kalathos (grain measure) with corn ear. They represent Isis-Thermouthis and Serapis (Serapis is the bearded one on the right). Isis was the consort of Serapis-Agathadaimon, and two came to embody the forces of male and female fertility. The two are sometimes represented on door-jambs as human headed serpents.
Serapis was a composite god combining the Egyptian god Osorapis (himself a combination of Osiris and Apis) with the attributes of Greek gods such as Zeus, Dionysos. Serapis is first known under Ptolemy I (305 –285 BC) and had his cult centre at Alexandria at the Serappeum.
The depiction of Serapis as a serpent also embodies the idea of the Greek Agathodaemon, protector of the home and guarantor of the fertility of the land.
Isis-Thermouthis combines Isis with the cobra goddess Renenutet (Greek Thermouthis). Renenutet was a protector of the king and the harvest. Under Amenhat II and IV, a temple was built for her at Mouthis, where she was known as Thermouthis (‘Lady of Mouthis’). As a corn goddess she is associated with Osiris in his youthful form, and was thus identified with Isis.
This items was bought from E. Hatoun in February 1931 by one of Sir Henry Wellcome’s employees, Capt. Saint.
From 30BC, when the Romans conquered Egypt, the cults of Isis and Serapus spread to the farthest corners of the Roman empire, even to London.
More snake related items in the Centre