Thoth as a Baboon
replica: from the Staatlichen Museen, Berlin
gift of: Peter and Doris Bietenholz
date of the original: 1st century B.C.
provenance of the original: Egypt, now in the Egyptian Museum, Berlin
description: The god Thoth represented as a baboon. Plaster replica; serpentine original. Height 16.5 cm, width 8.5 cm, depth 8 cm
Wisdom, writing and counsel were ascribed to the god Thoth. He settled disputes between the living gods and was also connected to the souls of the dead. He was depicted most commonly with the body of a man and the head of an ibis.
When represented as a baboon, he symbolized those creatures who rose early with the sun, and was therefore held to be connected to the sun god Ra. Baboons were a feature in early Egyptian festivals (5300-3000 BC); they later became important to the Early Dynastic Kings of Horus (3000-2686 BC).
Thoth was also depicted as a lunar god or as a messenger god. He came to be associated with Hermes (see: Hermes and the Infant Dionysus) in the Ptolemaic period (332-30 BC).
(See also: Faience Amulets.)