bird represented might be a chick, but certainly not a cock. Behind the figure, on the ground, is an eagle with raised wings.
There is an inscription on the reverse, but since it presents no familiar elements it does not help towards the understanding of the type. I do not think that there is any connection between this bird-headed figure and the raven-headed man who appears in the scene of the Mithraic banquet (Dura, Seventh and Eighth Seasons
, p. 108, Pl. 18). Nor is there any more reason to connect the bird-headed person on the amulet with the cock-headed anguipede than with Horus, who was represented with a hawk's head in the art of Egypt. In fact, there is little doubt that this Egyptian type is the source of some of the bird-headed figures; the influence is clearly indicated on a stone of which, unfortunately, I can give only an incomplete description, since it has not been published and its present whereabouts are unknown.32
On the obverse is a muscular male figure facing left, nude except for the Egyptian apron or waistcloth. The head is that of a bird, and the disk above its head shows that it was intended for that of a hawk. In the right hand the god holds a short scepter topped by a hawk which seems to have a small disk over its head. In the left hand he holds the ankh. In the field is the word αβρασαξ, on the reverse θωζαξαζωθ αβρασαξ. The first word on the reverse is a palindrome which has been found elsewhere, though rarely.33
A difficult question is raised by several amulets which combine the head of an ass with human arms and trunk and legs ending in coiled serpents. It had been assumed that this represented a combination of the solar divinity, usually shown with a cock's head, and the attribute which in the later days of Egypt marked the wicked god Set-Typhon; for although the ancient animal of Set was certainly not the ass, there is indubitable evidence, from both Egyptian and Greek sources, that from the Saite period on the god was represented with the head of that animal. Yet the combination of a Typhonic attribute with a solar divinity is surprising, since Set had taken on the character of a god of darkness and evil. In recent years a Russian scholar, A. Procopé-Walter, insisting upon the fundamental opposition of the two types, has questioned the genuineness of some gems which show an ass-headed anguipede, and his doubts seem to be fully sustained, so far as those particular gems are concerned.34
On the other hand, he recognizes that in the magical
32 This stone was offered for sale to the University of Michigan some years ago, but, owing to a misunderstanding, passed into other hands before the purchase could be concluded. It is believed to be in private possession in New York or Brooklyn. If the owner were known I should of course have requested permission to publish it. It has seemed permissible to describe it (from a sealing-wax impression) as I have done above, in the hope of discovering its present whereabouts. Perhaps the owner, if he should see the description, will consent to publish it adequately with a much-needed illustration.
33 Notes made in the British Museum several years ago record that I found there two specimens of a cock-headed figure with human legs (56210, 56367), one of which (56210) had feet like those of a bird. Unfortunately, owing to the haste in which these notes were set down, the descriptions of the stones are imperfect, and cannot be completed or amended under present conditions.
34 “Iao und Set,” ARW 30, 60, n. 2. The stones that Procopé-Walter suspects are these: Southesk N 7; Lewis Collection, p. 79, 15 (illustrated in Imhoof-Blumer, Tier- und Pflanzenbilder, Pl. 25, 31); a gem formerly in the Waterton collection, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Cat. of Rings, No. 146, illustrated in King, Handbook of Engraved Gems 2, 12, 3.