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Statue of Taweret, Cairo, Egypt, 1925-1933

Taweret was an ancient Egyptian goddess who was believed to have given birth to the world. She was called upon to protect pregnant women, especially during child birth. She is represented as a pregnant hippopotamus with pendulous breasts and sometimes as part lion and part crocodile. She is holding the hieroglyph sa, a sign of protection. Taweret’s cult was also venerated in ancient Greece, where her name became Theoris. The ancient Egyptians believed that while illness and disease were natural events, they also had supernatural causes, which were controlled by the gods. Prevention and treatment of illness and disease therefore included prayers at home to statues of gods like this one.

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Glossary: statue

A sculpture in the round representing human or animal figures or small figure groups; a statuette is a smaller sculpture.

Glossary: pregnancy

The condition of having a developing unborn embryo or foetus in the body. A human pregnancy is usually of 40 weeks gestation.