Based on the monumental character of the classical Egyptian lion image, of which only the facial part has survived, this head was probably incorporated into the architecture of a temple or palace as a gargoyle. Only a few strands of the former mane have survived. The lines of the closed mouth are set in black, the eyeballs tinted red, the irises painted black. Lion-shaped gargoyles usually consist of the front part of the reclining animal, which encloses the drainage channel between its paws. Since the temple roofs were accessible via stairs and formed the cult stage for certain rituals, they had to be accessible at all times and therefore also drained. This depiction of a lion does not necessarily have to be a representation of a specific deity; lion heads as gargoyles with apotropaic (warding off evil) effects can be found on numerous temples throughout Egypt.
It cannot be completely ruled out that the head originally belonged to a lion sculpture, perhaps in a lying or crouching posture. Comparable sculptures as embodiments of a power that wards off enemies and all evil are known from temple complexes and are worshipped under various names. The length of an entire lion image determined from the size of the face fragment would be almost three metres in this case.
Mélanie Flossmann-Schütze, SMÄK
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