Saturday, June 24, 2017

ANIMALS IN ROCK ART - A PAINTED MONGOOSE IN AN EGYPTIAN TOMB:


Beni Hassan, Egypt.
Public domain.

 I have, on occasion, presented material in RockArtBlog that came from Egyptian tombs and other sources not generally considered as rock art. My reason for this is that I see a pretty direct relationship between something painted on a cliff or boulder, and something painted on the rock wall of a tomb. (Besides, some of these subjects are just too fascinating to pass up.)

A recent column by Owen Jarus on Live Science presents paintings from a tomb at Beni Hassan, Egypt. Dated May 9, 2017, Jarus' column shows paintings from the tomb of Baqet I, "a nomarch or provincial governor, who ruled during the 11th dynasty." (Jarus 2017)


Mongoose panel, Tomb
of Baquet I. Beni Hassan,
Egypt. Public domain.

Among these tomb paintings is one that shows a number of animals and birds in a scene illustrating a group of hunters. One of the hunters holds a pair of leashes leading a dog (apparently a Pharoah hound) and an Egyptian mongoose. The Beni Hassan tombs were excavated more than a century ago by Percy Newbarry, but are now being re-surveyed by Linda Evans and a team from Macquarie University's Australian Centre for Egyptology. Newberry had tentatively identified the animal as a possible mongoose, but this has been disputed by other Egyptologists. Recently an Egyptian antiquities team conserved and cleaned these tombs and paintings, allowing the definite identification of the animals as indeed being an Egyptian mongoose. (Jarus 2017)


Egyptian mongoose,
public domain.

Egyptologists and art historians familiar with Egyptian tomb painting are quite accustomed to seeing pictures of Egyptians with animals in surprising situations. A well known example would be paintings of Egyptians hunting with cats.


"'While mongooses have never been fully domesticated - that is, subjected to controlled breeding - some cultures have chosen to keep the animals as pets in order to control unwanted pests, such as snakes, rats, and mice."  (Jarus 2017)" This writer can attest to that, having seen numerous examples of mongooses on leashes with snake charmers in the early 1960s in Karachi, Lahore, and Hyderabad, Pakistan. 


Line-drawing of Mongoose panel,
Tomb of Baquet I. Beni Hassan,
Egypt. Public domain.

No other images of leashed mongooses are known in Egyptian art,' Evans wrote." (Jarus 2017) So, while uncommon, this subject is certainly not that unlikely. All in all, however, it makes for an interesting subject and is yet another fascinating example of ancient art for us to study and appreciate.

NOTE: Images in this column were retrieved from the internet with a search that included the term public domain. If any of these images were not intended as public domain, please inform me and I will be happy to give credit, or delete those images.

REFERENCES:

Jarus, Owen,
2017 Tomb Drawing Shows Mongoose on a Leash, Puzzling Archaeologists, May 9, 2017, Live Science, https://www.livescience.com/59022-egypt-tomb-with-leashed-mongoose-drawing.html

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