After years of being washed, perfumed and fed in ancient Egypt, the statue of a revered Egyptian deity was given a proper burial with other "dead" statues more than 2,000 years ago, a new study finds.
Ancient Egyptians buried the statue of the deity Ptah — the god of craftsmen and sculptors — with other revered statues, including those of a sphinx, baboon, cat, Osiris, and Mut, in a pit next to Ptah's temple.
The statue of Ptah had likely sat in the temple for years, but it and the other sacred objects were respectfully buried after they accumulated damage and were declared useless by the ancient Egyptians, the researchers said. [See Photos of the Ptah, Sphnix and Other Statues]
"We can consider that when a new statue was erected in the temple, this one [of Ptah] was set aside in a pit," said study co-researcher Christophe Thiers, director of the French-Egyptian Center for the Study of the Temples of Karnak. "The other artifacts were also previously damaged during their ‘lifetime’ in the temple, and then they were buried with the Ptah statue."
Archaeologists discovered the pit in December 2014 at Karnak, an Egyptian temple precinct, and spent about a month excavating its rich assemblage. The pit held 38 objects, including:
Fourteen statuettes and figurines of Osiris.
Eleven fragments of inlay from statues.
The inlay included that of an iris, a cornea, a false beard, a cap, a strand of hair and an inlay plaque.
Three baboon statuettes (representing the god Thoth).
Two statuettes of the goddess Mut (one with hieroglyphic inscriptions).
Two unidentified statuette bases.
One head and one fragmentary statuette of a cat (Bastet).
One small fragmentary faience stele (a stone slab) recording the name of the god Ptah.
One head of a statuette of a man in gilded limestone.
One lower part of a statue of the seated god Ptah, sawn and repaired.
One unidentified metal piece.