“A Crocodile Spirit, Crocodile-Faced”: Discovery of Crocodile Remains in the Early Middle Kingdom Tombs of the North Asasif Necropolis in Western Thebes (Egypt)

In: Journal of African Archaeology
Patryk Chudzik Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw 00–838 Warsaw Poland

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Urszula Iwaszczuk Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences 00–330 Warsaw Poland

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The recent discovery of Nile crocodile remains in the mortuary complexes of two high-ranking courtiers of Nebhepetra Mentuhotep II, located in the early Middle Kingdom necropolis in the valley of North Asasif, opened the way to an exploration of the role of reptile remains in funerary contexts. The skeletal remains, which were not mummified, consisted of fragments of the skull and mandible, loose teeth, and osteoderms. This paper explores the association that may have existed between the deceased and the crocodile god Sobek, whom the ancient Egyptians identified with pharaonic power, inundation and fertility. From the Middle Kingdom, Sobek, who was believed to have risen from the Primeval Waters, was merged with the sun-god Ra, and in the solar form of Sobek-Ra was made part of the eternal journey of the sun from the east to the west. This association was also reflected in the Spells of the Coffin Texts, in which the deceased became Sobek.

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