Ostracon of the god Hapi

An ostracon depicted in two faces, the verso depicted with a double-figure of the Nile god Hapi standing, with a fat body wearing a crown of the two plants of Upper and Lower Egypt and a short kilt. On the left, the god raises his left leg while the right one raises his right leg in a symbol of unification. Their names are inscribed on top of the front of the two figures. On the reverse, there are two oxen facing each other.

Ostracon of the god Hapi
Ostracon of the god Hapi

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.

Egyptian ostraca were used for artist’s sketchings, cartoons-caricatures, letter documents, school–practice writing, and graffiti. This particular ostracon may be a sketch by an artisan working on the prince’s tomb.

New Kingdom, ca. 1550-1070 BC. Limestone, from the Valley of the Kings, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. CG 25062