Tile of a bound Nubian

This glazed tile of a Nubian is from the remnants of a palace built by Ramesses III in Tell el-Yahudiyeh. This tile is only surviving in shards and has lost most of its former colour and gloss.

Tell el Yahudiyeh is a city in Egypt’s Eastern Delta. The site has remnants dating from the Second Intermediate to the Roman Period. The site contains a palace that was most likely built by Ramesses III. There is also a Hellenistic Jewish temple (Temple of Onias) recorded by ancient sources and discovered and excavated by Petrie.

The tile depicts a Nubian captive whose wrists are bound in front of his body. There is also a cuff around his neck, but it is not clear whether it is tied to the handcuff. He wears a pleated robe and a hooped earring. His headdress or hair is layered in rectangular beaded style, usually painted red, and a feather adorns the top of his head (no longer visible). He wears a feather on his head. Traces of black pigment remain on the skin.

The hieroglyph “ms” appears on the back of the tile, and is most likely a marking relating to either the tile’s creation or placement.

Tile of a bound Nubian
Tile of a bound Nubian. Ägyptisches Museum. ÄM 7946

Other tiles of similar style, depicting Egyptian foes as bound captives, have also been discovered dating from the reign of Ramesses III and are in much better condition, with glaze and pigment still remaining. Given the representation of surrounding populations throughout the 20th Dynasty (ca. 1189-1077 BC), the ornamental tiles are regarded as having great historical and anthropological relevance.

The prisoner tiles are a series of Egyptian faïence tiles portraying prisoners of war that previously covered the floor near the window of Ramesses III’s palace at Medinet Habu. They are adorned with representations of chained inmates, identifiable by their ethnic characteristics.


Faïence tile of a Nubian captive,
New Kingdom, 20th Dynasty, reign of Ramesses III, c. 1186-1155 B.C.
From the remnants of a palace of Ramesses III at Tell el-Yahudiya.
Ägyptisches Museum. ÄM 7946

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