Agyptische Tier- und Gotterbronzen aus Unteragypten: Untersuchungen zu Typus, Ikonographie und Funktion sowie der Bedeutung innerhalb der Kulturkontakte zu Griechenland. By KATJA WEISS. Agypten und Altes Testament, vol. 81.2 vols. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2012. Pp. xxxiv + 1092, 79 pits. 198 [euro].
Bronze figurines start to appear in significant numbers in Egypt in the early first millennium B.C.E., and from that time into the Roman period, they were made in increasingly large quantities. Relatively few of them are provenanced, and unfortunately, many of the hoards which have been excavated have been dispersed, and too often records of their origins have been lost, which adds to the problems not only of assigning a date, but even in some cases of identifying the figure, hindering our understanding of their function.
Although bronzes show up in almost every catalog of Egyptian collections, there have been few exhaustive studies of this material and so this work is especially welcome. The first real effort to classify and identify bronzes was Georges Daressy, Statues de Divinite's (Cairo 1906). Now the standard work is Giinther Roeder, Agyptische Bronzefiguren (Berlin 1956). More recently, Bronzes et or egyptiens (Paris 2001) by J. F. Aubert and L. Aubert appeared, but that volume deals more with the gods portrayed and suffers from a lack of photos and figures. In 2007, the Metropolitan Museum of Art issued a catalog for an exhibit of bronzes that presented important analytical information, art historical background, and cultural context on their deposition and function, but it was not intended to be an overall study of forms and function. Another important contribution to our understanding of bronzes is Dieter Kessler's work on animal cults, especially Die heiligen Tiere und der Konig (Wiesbaden 1989), in which he suggested that some figurines were related to the official cult of the king and to festivals rather than being offerings left by pilgrims.
Weiss's massive two-volume work is a revised version of her dissertation for the Johannes Gutenburg-Universitat, Mainz, and indeed it has the appearance of a good German thesis, packed with tables and charts. Although her focus is on bronzes from Lower Egypt, some of the tables include comparative examples of unknown provenance as well as examples from Upper and Middle Egypt and from other areas of the Mediterranean.
The book is divided into chapters on materials and techniques, a description of...