African wild cat (Felis silvestris lybica) lurking in the undergrowth

Egypt, Beni Hassan, Khnumhotep II (Tomb 3), Upper Cemetery, East 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. 70a, 100b (photograph),

Description

Representations of cats (Egyptian name: mi-uw) are rare in Egyptian art until the Middle Kingdom period. Like earlier images, the Beni Hassan cat's striped coat and tail show that it is an African wild cat, a precursor to the domesticated cat. A few hundred years after this painting was made, however, domesticated cats became common in Egypt. The Beni Hassan cat stares intensely at Khnumhotep as he hunts in the marshes, foreshadowing a growing connection between humans and cats that has lasted until the present day.

Details

Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, Reign of Amenemhat II (c. 1918-1884 B.C.E.). Egypt, Beni Hassan, Upper Cemetery, Khnumhotep II (Tomb 3), East wall, south of entrance to shrine. Polychrome paint on limestone (photograph). Relief (photograph).

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. 70a, 100b (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 Linda Evans and the Beni Hassan Research Group with resources from the Macquarie University Ancient Cultures Research Centre, and the Australian Centre for Egyptology.

Cite This

Linda Evans "African wild cat (Felis silvestris lybica) lurking in the undergrowth." 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/exhibition/Kanawati-Evans-BH1-Pl-100b-Beni-Hassan-3-Khnumhotep-II-Chapel-Scene-East-wall-Right-Centre-section-Wall/