Isis was an important Egyptian deity, whose relevance in the Egyptian canon was manifold – she was the goddess most commonly associated with birth and creation, on account of her role in the Osirian myth. However, she was also the goddess of wisdom and magic, and kingship and the protection of the kingdom also fell within her domain. The goddess enjoyed widespread worship, which extended beyond the confines of Egypt – indeed, the secret cult of Isis in the Roman Empire received frequent mention in literature. This statuette is a beautiful example of the cultural and aesthetic syncretism which was common in antiquity across the Mediterranean regions. It was perfectly accepted in the Ancient World that other deities could exist and that they had no less legitimacy than those in one’s territory. Isis is an example of an Egyptian goddess adopted and adapted by the Greeks and the Romans. The Egyptians themselves could worship deities who did not originally belong to their own culture: for instance, Astarte, the warrior goddess from Western Asia, was said to come to protect the pharaoh in battle.
To discover more about religious syncretisms in Antiquity, please visit our relevant blog post: Religious Syncretisms in the Ancient Mediterranean Region.