W. Froehner, Collection de la Comtesse R. de Béarn, Paris, 1909, vol. III, p. 61, no. 10, pl. XI.
A. Wiese, Ägyptische Kunst im Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, Basel, 1998, no. 71.
A. Wiese, Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig. Die Ägyptische Abteilung, Mainz, 2001, no. 118.
This finely detailed lion lies with hind legs to the right and tail held over its back. A luxurious curling mane surrounds its characterful face which has the unusual feature of mouth open, apparently holding something, perhaps its prey, in its jaws, the remains of which fall down on the left side. Lions with open mouths are rare and were thought to be unknown in Egyptian art before the Persian Period. On each shoulder of this lion is a cartouche, one of the Nomen and the other the Prenomen of the Late Period Pharaoh Nekau.
Nekau II Wahemibre (610-595 B.C.) was the third Pharaoh of the 26th Dynasty, and the son of Psamtek I. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus he despatched an expedition that circumnavigated Africa, and he began the construction of a canal from the Nile to the Red Sea. Herodotus writes: “…a hundred and twenty thousand Egyptians perished in the digging of it. During the course of excavations, Necos ceased from the work, being stayed by a prophetic utterance that he was toiling beforehand for the barbarian. The Egyptians call all men of other languages barbarian”. (Herodotus, II, ch. 158). It was subsequently completed by the Achaemenid King Darius I.