Figured Ostracon of animals

An ostracon sketch of animals such common crane, a vulture, and a hound possibly basenji. This probably a series of trial sketches, not an integrated composition, and the subjects were sketched independently.

Sketches of animals on ostraca were a common form of artistic expression in ancient Egypt. These sketches depicted a wide range of animals, including domesticated animals, wildlife, and mythical creatures. They were often created using simple lines and minimal details, capturing the essence and recognizable features of the depicted animals.

Figured Ostracon of animals
Figured Ostracon of animals

These animal sketches served different purposes. Some were purely artistic, showcasing the skill and creativity of the ancient Egyptian artists. Others had religious or symbolic significance, representing specific deities or embodying certain qualities associated with the depicted animals.

An ostracon is a piece of pottery or stone that was commonly used in ancient Egypt as a writing or drawing surface. Ostraca (plural of ostracon) were often used for various purposes, including sketches of animals.

Ostraca were often used by Egyptian artists for preliminary drawings, and no doubt by students of painting and sculpture. Ostracon, the Greek term for potsherd, is used by Egyptologists to refer to sherds of pottery or limestone flakes, which were used as a cheap and readily available material on which write or draw.

The text and drawings often consist of letters, bills, personal notes, inventories, sketches and scribal exercises, but also of literary texts, like love poems and wisdom texts.

Ostraca with animal sketches have been found in various archaeological contexts, including tombs, temples, and everyday living spaces. They provide valuable insights into the artistic and cultural practices of ancient Egypt, as well as their fascination with the animal kingdom and its symbolism.

New Kingdom, 20th Dynasty, Ramesside Period, around 1200 BC. From vicinity of tomb (KV18), Valley of the Kings, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 46732