Figured Ostracon

Accession Number

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An ostracon (a sketch on a pot or stone sherd) showing a Hathor cow and a procession of three people. At the top, a cow with a sun disc between her horns can be seen. Below this, there is a procession of four figures with their arms raised in adoration. Sketches such as this were made by the villagers of Deir el-Medina in Western Thebes as exercises for their official work as draughtsmen in the nearby tombs of the New Kingdom (c. 1550–1079 BC) royalty, or to record passive incidents in their daily life. The villagers maintained a small temple of their own in which Hathor was venerated, where they themselves performed the daily and seasonal rituals that in the more important state temples were the responsibility of a professional priesthood. Hathor has more temples than any other goddess in ancient Egypt. Writing on the back of the object in blue pencil indicates that the object comes from Deir el-Medina. Previously part of the collection of Robert de-Rustafjaell, which was sold at auction in 1906 (lot 75). It was purchased by Sir Henry Wellcome and loaned to the Egypt Centre in 1971 as part of the distribution of the Wellcome collection.

Last modified: 27 Nov 2023

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