Pleasing a Crocodile God

From the exhibit Exploring Objects, Fears, and the Future

Crocodile statue, Egypt.

Circa 305-30 BCE. 6-20307.

Ancient Egyptians living along the Nile counted on the river to flood every August, spreading fertile soil to nourish their crops. Some years, however, flooding was insufficient. While crocodiles are a frequent sight in the Nile, their numbers increase during floods. The statue is thought to depict Sobek, a complex crocodile deity associated with the yearly flood, as well as kingship and creation. People made offerings and sacrificed and mummified crocodiles to please Sobek, since they feared that otherwise he would not produce a sufficient flood.

Photo: David Garnick