African spoonbill (Platelea alba) hunting a monarch butterfly (Danaus chrysippus)

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. 65b, 104a (photograph),

Description

The insect accurately reproduces the monarch butterfly's orange, veined wings edged with black and white spots, and its spotted body. Its large eyes are an exaggeration, however. The spoonbill's beak has a jagged, tooth-like appearance, a feature that is missing on other represented birds. Although spoonbills appear to have very flat, smooth mandibles, they are in fact lined with small bumps, giving them a rough texture so that the birds are able to grip slippery prey items, like fish. Why the artist chose to highlight this virtually invisible feature is a mystery.

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, north 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. 65b, 104a (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 spoonbill (Platelea alba) hunting a monarch butterfly (Danaus chrysippus)." 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-65b-Beni-Hassan-3-Khnumhotep-II-Chapel-Scene-East-wall-Left-Centre-section-Wall/