Popular Mechanics managed to wrangle an expert on egyptology who, in turn, went on to crack the mysteries of LOST’s egyptian influences wide open. Check it out.
The big question on last night’s Lost, “Dead is Dead” might have been “What’s in the shadow of the statue?” but our question is “What is the statue, and what does it have to do with the smoke monster?” To get the answer, PM turned to James P. Allen, a Wilbour Professor of Egyptology and Chair of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies at Brown University.
As Ben explored the chamber beneath the Others’ temple that seems to be Smokey’s lair, he comes across a variety of hieroglyphics etched into the walls. But one in particular caught his eye: A strange creature kneeling in front of a snake-like (Smokey-the-monster-like?) entity. The creature on the right looks like it could easily resemble the four-toed statue. Even though the only full-size glimpse we’ve had of the statue was from the back, many are speculating that the statue is of Anubis, the Egyptian god associated with the afterlife who protects the deceased and guides them to the great beyond. Anubis is usually portrayed as half-jackal (top), half-human (bottom).
Allen agrees that the animal-headed human in the hieroglyphic Ben is fixated on is probably based on Anubis, though he says in actuality, no Egyptian scene looks like what’s shown on Lost. “I suspect that the colossus is also meant to be Anubis, too,” he says. But he points out, it’s actually more of a hybrid of Anubis and Taweret, the demon-wife of the Apep, the Egyptian’s original god of evil. (It’s said that Apep was only present at night, and therefore any evil happenings during the daytime were attributed to Taweret). “The thing on the head definitely looks like Taweret’s, but she never wears a kilt, which is clearly there in the back shot of the colossus. The colossus is probably holding two ankh-signs, like the one Anubis holds in this image, but he’s holding them like Taweret holds the two signs she holds, which are ‘protection’ signs, not ankhs.” Allen also notes that “the four toes on the statue fragment are more Taweret than Anubis, who has a human body and therefore five toes.”
Another interesting fact about Taweret: She’s the goddess of maternity and childbirth, the protector of women and children who was said to guard mothers and their newborn children. The creatures she’s made up of—hippopotamus, crocodile and lion— are all animals that would kill to protect their young. So if the statue does have elements of Taweret, and it was destroyed, could that explain why mothers who conceive on the island can’t carry to term?
Allen notes that the other hieroglyphics in Smokey’s Lair are actually quite good, even though they don’t really say anything. He suspects they were copied from some publication of the Book of the Dead, the ancient Egyptian funerary text.
We could theorize until the cows come home about what this all means—is the smoke monster supposed to represent Apep, the god of evil, or is he more akin to Anubis, determining the afterlife of the dead? —but we’ll leave that up to you