Two bronze figurines of the Oxyrhynchus fish
Two bronze figurines of the Oxyrhynchus fish

Medjed was a species of the family elephantfish worshipped at Oxyrhynchus (Ὀξύρρυγχος) in ancient Egyptian religion. These fish were believed to have eaten the penis of the god Osiris after his brother Set had dismembered and scattered the god's body. A settlement in Upper Egypt, Per-Medjed, was named after the fish and is now better known under its Greek name Oxyrhynchus,[1] meaning "sharp-nosed" or "town of the sharp-nosed fish," a nod to the Egyptian depiction of the species.

The elephantfish (subfamily Mormyrinae) are medium-sized freshwater fish abundant in the Nile. They figure in various Egyptian and other artworks. Some species of mormyrid have distinctive downturned snouts, lending them the common name of elephantnoses among aquarists and ichthyologists. A figurine from Oxyrhynchus of one of the sacred Medjed fish has many attributes typical of mormyrids: a long anal fin, a small caudal fin, widely spaced pelvic and pectoral fins, and the downturned snout.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Blumell, Lincoln H. (2012). Lettered Christians: Christians, Letters, and Late Antique Oxyrhynchus. BRILL. p. 1. ISBN 9789004180987. Fn. 3 and 4, referring also to Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride 353C.
  2. ^ "Bronze statuette of Oxyrhynchus fish: date uncertain". Imaging Papyri Project. 1998. Retrieved 25 May 2007.