Tomb owner hunting in the desert, a scene from the tomb of Khnumhotep II at Beni Hassan

Egypt, Beni Hassan, Khnumhotep II (Tomb 3), Upper Cemetery, Chapel, North wall.

Publication

N. Kanawati & L. Evans, Beni Hassan: Volume I: The Tomb of Khnumhotep II (Australian Centre for Egyptology: Reports 36, Aris and Phillips, Oxford, 2014, ISBN: 978-0-85668-846-1), pls. 33a (photograph),

Description

The tomb owner shoots wild cattle (Bos taurus) in the desert. This detail comes from a desert hunt scene on the chapel's north wall where Khnumhotep II faces right, and is shooting a calf in the top register, or first row, and a seated bull in the second register, or second row. The tomb owner is depicted with a beard and moustache and he wears a skullcap, collar, sandals and a long transparent kilt on top of a short sports tunic. At his feet is a running pricked-eared dog that is wearing a rope collar. Above the tomb owner is a section of text labelling him as: ḥꜢtj-Ꜥ Nḥrj sꜢ H̱nmw-ḥtp(.w) jr n BꜢḳt mꜢꜤ- ḫrw'the count Nehri's son, Khnumhotep, born to Baqet, the justified'.

The space behind the tomb owner is divided into three short registers. In the first register, a hunter pursues two running hartebeests Alcelaphus buselaphus, and the tomb owner’s son aims a bow at the animals. In the second register, hunters have seized two scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah), a dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas) and a wild bull. In the third register stands an attendant or bodyguard to Khnumhotep II, a man leading two hunting dogs, and a third man carrying an axe and shield.

The image of Khnumhotep II and other nomarchs directly facing wild animals in a desert hunt scene is rare. In the Old Kingdom (c. 2649 - 2150 B.C.), hunting in the desert was carried out by attendants using lassoes and hunting dogs and occasionally bows and arrows. The tomb owner only watched these activities take place, and was often shown separated from the action by a fence and/or guards. Some examples in private tombs of the Middle Kingdom show the tomb owner actively engaged in the hunt. The tomb owner, however, is frequently positioned outside of the enclosure fence with the activities of other hunters taking place inside the confined area.

Details

Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, Reign of Amenemhat II (c. 1918-1884 B.C.E.). Egypt, Beni Hassan, Upper Cemetery, Khnumhotep II (Tomb 3), Chapel, North wall, Left Upper section, Wall. limestone. Relief or Polychrome Paint.

Referencing

Publication

N. Kanawati & L. Evans, Beni Hassan: Volume I: The Tomb of Khnumhotep II (Australian Centre for Egyptology: Reports 36, Aris and Phillips, Oxford, 2014, ISBN: 978-0-85668-846-1), pls. 33a (photograph),

Project Funding

Project funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Project Scheme: "Measuring meaning in Egyptian art: A new approach to an intractable problem" (DP160102223), held by N. Kanawati (Macquarie University), L. Evans (Macquarie University), A. Woods (Macquarie University) and J. Kamrin (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York); the Department of Ancient History and Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University.

Rights

Photograph by Effy Alexakis, Photowrite. Recorded and published with permission from the Supreme Council of Antiquities. Copyright original photograph owners, used with the Macquarie University license. All rights reserved, no redistribution of images or content from this site without prior permission (or otherwise compatible with Australian Copyright Fair Dealing).

Data Credits

Compiled by Nicolle Leary and the Beni Hassan Research Group with resources from the Macquarie University Ancient Cultures Research Centre, and the Australian Centre for Egyptology.

Cite This

Nicolle Leary "Tomb owner hunting in the desert, a scene from the tomb of Khnumhotep II at Beni Hassan ." In The Beni Hassan Visual Dictionary: Khnumhotep II, edited by Alexandra Woods, Brian Ballsun-Stanton, and Nicolle Leary. Sydney: Macquarie University, 2018. https://benihassan.com/dictionary/Khnumhotep+II+Tomb+3/Tomb+owner+hunting+in+the+desert/