Disk of Hemaka with Scene of Dogs Hunting Gazelles

These particular objects known as the Hemaka discs were found in 1936 by the Egyptologist Walter Emery inside a wooden box, we do not know their purpose, but Emery suggested that they may have been used for weaving, although they may have been used as part of a game. This example bears a hunting scene, showing two dogs and two gazelles.

On the convex side of the disk there is a hunting scene. A dog tracks a gazelle and then attacks and bites its neck. The figures are enhanced by a skillful contrast of colors. One of the dogs and the horns and hooves of the gazelles are carved from the soapstone disk itself. 

The second dog and the bodies of the two gazelles are inlaid in pink-veined alabaster. Other decorated spinning disks like this one were found in an open wooden box in Hemaka’s tomb. They were apparently intended for use as small spinning tops. A stick was inserted in the hole through the center of the disk. When the disk is turned, it creates a scene of dogs chasing gazelles.

Disk of Hemaka with scene of dogs hunting gazelles. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 70164
Disk of Hemaka with scene of dogs hunting gazelles. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 70164

Hemaka was an important official during the long reign of the 1st Dynasty Egyptian King Den. Early Dynastic Period, ca. 3150-2890 BC. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 70164

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