Coffin Base of a Priestly Official showing a scarab and Apophis

Coffin Base of a Priestly Official (detail). Egyptian. Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty 21, 1076-944 BC. Wood, painted gesso. Charlotte Lichirie Collection of Egyptian Art. 

Egyptian art is full of the snakes that inhabited the natural world, but the Egyptians also imagined fantastical snakes in the Underworld. A scene on the Coffin Base of a Priestly Official, part of the museum’s permanent collection of Egyptian art depicts Apophis and his enemy Ra, the sun god, who is symbolized by a scarab. Apophis hoped to defeat Ra in order to prevent the sun from rising, which would trigger the collapse of creation.

We’ve created a puzzle using an image of the scene between Apophis and Ra. As you complete the puzzle, note the following:

  • Apophis’s long body twists and turns like a maze whose exit is unknown, speaking to the chaos outside the ancient Egyptians’ orderly created world.
  • Above Apophis, a scarab spreads its wings, symbolizing the rising sun and Ra’s victory over Apophis and chaos.
  • The dark lines across Apophis’s body represent the knives that Ra and others used to defeat the great snake.


Complete the puzzle