The History Place - Mummies: Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt - British Museum; Bowers Museum

Sheet Gold

Late Period, after 600 BC
The cobra was a much feared and respected creature in Egypt. It possessed many different associations, particularly with royalty, and use of the symbol meant that the dangerous power of the cobra was always magically turned to the benefit of the user. Thus the king's uraeus, worn on his brow, is referred to in some battle texts as destroying his enemies and giving the king power over them. Images of Egyptian gods also bear the rearing cobra. This cobra could be interpreted as either Hathor who, in the guise of the eye of Re, was sent to destroy mankind for being disrespectful, or as Sekhmet who was the fiery weapon of the god Re and who could also be sent out to destroy the enemies of the gods. Re bequeathed this gift of potential destruction, represented by the rearing cobra, to his descendants, the kings of Egypt. Actual size: Length 13.6 cm.

NEXT IMAGE | Slide Show Index

All images reproduced by permission of the Trustees of the British Museum. Informational text provided by the British Museum.

The History Place Terms of Use: Private home/school non-commercial, non-Internet re-usage only is allowed of any text, graphics, photos, audio clips, other electronic files or materials from The History Place™