Egyptian bronze shrew sarcophagus, Late Period, 664-332 B.C

In ancient Egypt, they believed that their deities could appear on earth in animal form; as such, shrews played a prominent role in Egyptian worship practices. In fact, shrews were considered to be animals that came from the darkness and were often associated with the mongoose, an animal that would appear during the day. These two species may have represented two faces (night and day, darkness and light) of the same deity. These types of shrew sarcophagi have been found on pedestals of falcon statues, where they were introduced as prey to these birds to represent the triumph of the sun over darkness. Furthermore, because of their life cycle, both nocturnal and diurnal, they were assimilated not only by Osiris, but also by nocturnal aspects of the hawk Horus Mejentyirty of Letopolis, who distinguished himself by being blind from birth and myopic throughout his life, but curiously, capable of restoring his sight. It was also thought that amulets shaped like shrews had this same power. Likewise, shrews were also related to the sun god, Ra, because during the night, he traveled through the dark underworld; the shrew could, therefore, be one of the forms that he adopted during such process.


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