Egyptian steatite amulet representing the god “Bes”, Roman period, 30 B.C.

This small amulet represents the god Bes, an archaic Egyptian divinity devoted to the protection of marriage and home. He was also the god of pregnant women and protected men from evil influences and reptiles. He was a god associated with music, often being depicted dancing and playing instruments such as the harp or drum. He was represented naked, with a short stature and large genitals, and with a very characteristic face: a large and wide face with round cheeks crossed by two folds that descend from the nostrils and with a beard divided into two quadrants formed by curly hair that fell on his shoulders. It is a face that moves away from human conception and seeks to represent a kind of mask or monster linked to its sacred function. In the year 30 B.C. after the death of Cleopatra, the Roman Empire took control of Egypt, which would last for seven centuries. Egypt became an economic pillar of the Roman Empire, both for the production of grain and for glass, metals and other manufactured products. In order to control the population and limit the power of the priests, the Roman emperors protected the traditional religion, so cults like those of Isis and Serapis spread throughout the Greco-Roman world.


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