Tomb draw­ing shows mon­goose on lead

Timeless Travels Magazine - - ARCHAEOLOGICAL NEWS -

A re­cent field sur­vey of the elite Mid­dle King­dom ceme­tery at Beni Has­san has revealed many un­usual an­i­mal mo­tifs, in­clud­ing a mon­goose on a lead and a pel­i­can - ex­am­ples of crea­tures that are rarely at­tested in the artis­tic record.

The tombs were ini­tially ex­ca­vated over 100 years ago by Percy New­berry but are cur­rently be­ing re-sur­veyed by a team from Mac­quarie Uni­ver­sity in Syd­ney. The con­ser­va­tion and record­ing has “revealed many scenes not found in New­berry’s re­ports,” said Evans. In ad­di­tion, the new work has iden­ti­fied crea­tures in the draw­ings that New­berry had been un­cer­tain about. For ex­am­ple, New­berry noted only the pos­si­ble ex­is­tence of a leashed Egyp­tian mon­goose, a bur­row­ing an­i­mal with a speck­led grey coat, writ­ing down the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion as a sug­ges­tion. Some Egyp­tol­o­gists who re­viewed his re­ports thought the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion was in­cor­rect, Evans noted.

“No other im­ages of leashed mon­gooses are known in Egyp­tian art,” she said. Evans’ team de­ter­mined that the an­i­mal is ‘mor­pho­log­i­cally iden­ti­cal’ to the Egyp­tian mon­goose, not­ing that the an­i­mal is also clearly de­picted on a leash.

The tomb be­longed to Baqet I, a no­march or provin­cial gov­er­nor, who ruled dur­ing the Eleventh Dy­nasty. The re­searchers said they don’t know why an an­cient Egyp­tian artist drew a leashed mon­goose on Baqet I’s tomb. “While mon­gooses have never been fully do­mes­ti­cated, some cul­tures have cho­sen to keep the an­i­mals as pets in or­der to con­trol un­wanted pests, such as snakes, rats and mice,”

said Evans.

An­cient draw­ing of a tomb at Beni Has­san in Egypt show­ing a hunter hold­ing the leashes of a dog (bot­tom) and an Egyp­tian mon­goose (top)

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