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Phoenician Harpocrates statues

The Madrid statue

The Phoenician Harpocrates statues are two copper alloy statues of the Greco-Egyptian god Harpocrates, with Phoenician inscriptions on their bases. The first statue was found in Madrid in the 18th century and is today in the National Archaeological Museum (Madrid) and the second was acquired by the British Museum in 1960 (BM 132908).[1][2]

The inscriptions are known as KAI 52, and feature in Gibson's Textbook of Syrian Semitic Inscriptions as III 37 and 38.

Madrid National Archaeological Museum

The inscription on the Madrid statue

The Madrid statue was first recorded in the 1767 Catalogue systématique et raisonné des curiosités de la nature et de l'art qui composent le Cabinet de M. Dávila (The systematic and reasoned catalog of the curiosities of nature and art that make up the Cabinet of M. Dávila), a detailed catalogue of the well known collector Pedro Franco Dávila. The catalogue described the statue as follows, without identifying the characters:

Harpocrates with the finger on the mouth, & his hair horn on the right ear. He is standing on a protruding plinth, on the sides of which are characters. The Figure is antique & the varnish modern: height ten and a half inches.[3]

The statue was not assessed by scholars until almost a century later when it was identified as Phoenician by Emil Hübner in his 1862 review of the ancient sculptures in Madrid.[4] It was then published in detail by Heinrich Ewald in 1875.[5]

British Museum

11 inch high bronze statuette, with the whites of the eyes inlaid with gold leaf.[1] The bilingual Egyptian and Phoenician inscription do not completely correspond:

  • Egyptian: May Harpocrates grant life to Us-ankh, son of Pet-hy ...
  • Phoenician: May Harpocrates grant life to Amos, son of Eshmunyaton, son of Azarmilk ..... .. ...

The statue may come from a shrine of Harpocrates in Egypt, "perhaps from the same source as a similar Harpocrates figure with a Phoenician inscription now in Madrid."[1]

Date to the fourth century BCE.[1]


  • Levy, M.A. (1870). Phönizische Studien (in German). Vol. 4. Leuckart. Retrieved 2022-10-10.


  1. ^ a b c d Barnett, R. D. “A Review of Acquisitions 1955-62 of Western Asiatic Antiquities (II).” The British Museum Quarterly, vol. 27, no. 3/4, 1963, pp. 79–88. JSTOR, Accessed 10 Oct. 2022.
  2. ^ "Statue | British Museum".
  3. ^ Dávila, P.F.; de Romé de L'Isle, J.B.L. (1767). Catalogue systematique et raisonne des curiosites de la nature et de l'art, qui composent le cabinet de M. Davila, avec figures en taille-douce, de plusieurs morceaux qui n'avoient point encore ete graves (in French). Vol. 3. Chez Briasson. Retrieved 2022-10-10. 160. Harpocrate avec le doigt sur la bouche, & sa corne de cheveux sur l'oreille droite. Il est debout sur une plinthe avancée, sur les côtés de laquelle sont des caracteres. La Figure est antique & le vernis moderne: hauteur dix pouces & demi.
  4. ^ Huebner, E. (1862). Die antiken Bildwerke in Madrid, etc (in German). Retrieved 2022-10-10. 527: Statue eines phönikischen Gottes mit Kopfschmuck, schreitend. Auf den vier Seiten des Plinthos eine phönikische Inschrift... Dávila S. 60, 160 nennt sie einen Harpokrates... Ich finde nichts anderes in der Sammlung, worauf diese Beschreibung passt.
  5. ^ Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen; Biodiversity Heritage Library (1865). Nachrichten von der Königl. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften und der Georg-Augusts-Universität zu Göttingen (in German). Dieterichsche Verlags-Buchhandlung. Retrieved 2022-10-10. Des Herrn Professor Emil Hübner in Berlin, welcher in seinen Antiken Bildwerken in Spanien (Berlin 1862) S. 231 auch schon bemerkte dass die Inschrift Phönikisch sei. Das Bildwerk selbst war, wie hier ebenfalls bemerkt ist, schon im J. 1767 in dem zu Paris erschienenen dreibändigen Werke Catalogue systématique et raisonné des curiosités de la nature et de l'art qui composent le cabinet de M. Davila T. III. 2 p. 60 f. als ein Harpokrates beschrieben: auch das Vorkommen einer Inschrift ist hier kurz angezeigt, nicht aber dass sie Phönikische Buchstaben enthalte. Dies ist vielleicht die Ursache warum man die Inschrift in Spanien nicht weiter beachtete, bis Emil Hübner sie in seiner Spanischen Forschungsreise näher untersuchte. Ich weiss wenigstens nicht dass sie früher schon beachtet wurde.
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Phoenician Harpocrates statues
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