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Gallery Text

Ancient Egyptians believed in supplying provisions for the deceased for eternity. Images of cattle butchery are frequently found in wall decorations in Old Kingdom tombs of the later third millennium BCE. These scenes depict the funerary ritual in which raw meat was brought to the dead to consume in the afterlife. The wall decoration of the funerary chapels above the burial chambers usually included the deceased before a table with offerings, processions of offering bearers and representatives of country estates, and bustling agricultural scenes. The reliefs from the interior of the tomb of Niankhnesut at Saqqara illustrate manifold activities connected to food production, from hunting and threshing to butchering and filling beer jars. In the relief on the left, the fragmentary inscription has been translated as "Bringing the cuts [of meat]." On the right, the inscription simply reads "female cattle." The three men are characteristic of two-dimensional representations of human figures in Egyptian art, with a frontal upper body, and head, waist, and limbs in profile. The raised reliefs were painted, and, following convention, the men’s bodies were painted reddish brown.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1934.17
Title
Tomb Relief: Man Holding a Cow by a Rope
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Relief from Mastaba Tombs: Ox and Attendant
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
sculpture
Date
2323-2150 BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Africa, Saqqara (Egypt)
Period
Old Kingdom, Dynasty 6
Culture
Egyptian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/291843
Location
Level 3, Room 3740, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art, Ancient Egypt: Art for Eternity
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Limestone, traces of paint
Technique
Relief
Dimensions
35.7 x 39 cm (14 1/16 x 15 3/8 in.)
Provenance
Tomb of Niankhnesut, west of Step Pyramid, Saqqara. [Harold W. Parsons, New York, NY, February 14, 1930], sold; to Grenville L. Winthrop, (1930-1934), gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1934.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Grenville L. Winthrop, Class of 1886
Accession Year
1934
Object Number
1934.17
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Frederick Randolph Grace, "Two Tomb Reliefs of the Old Kingdom", Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum, President and Fellows of Harvard College (Cambridge, MA, March 1936), Vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 30-35, pp. 30-35, fig. 1

Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1936), p. 6

Exhibition History

32Q: 3740 Egyptian, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Collection Highlights

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This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu