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Nature volume 128, pages 273274 (15 August 1931) | Download Citation



Hippopotamus Figures from Ancient Egypt.—Mr. W. M. Crompton describes two hitherto unpublished hippopotamus glazed figures in Ancient Egypt, 1931, pt. 1. The first was found by the expedition of the School of Archæology in Egypt to the Fayum in 1913–14, in a shaft-grave of the twelfth dynasty near Haregeh. The figure lies with the head turned to the right in a natural pose. It was originally covered with blue glaze, and decorated with designs in black outline, representing the fauna and flora of the marshes frequented by the animal, which was seldom seen except in glimpses through such a foreground. Recently Dr. L. Keimer has published a study of thirty-six decorated hippopotami. On twenty-six examples, including that from Haregeh, decorative motives appear as follows: the flowers of Nymphaea sp. appear in all but one, which is entirely decorated with pondweed. The leaves and buds almost invariably appear. Shining pondweed (Potamogeton lucens Linn.) appears on five. The papyrus is shown three times only. Rosettes are usual, but not invariable. Birds appear six times; butterflies three, or possibly four times; and a bee once. In one instance there is a frog half emerging from a lotus flower. Decorative bands are found four times and a network once. The representation on an animal figure of objects with which it was supposed to be surrounded was not, until recently, known to occur before the Middle Kingdom. It has now been carried back to the Middle Predynastic period; for Mr. Brunton has found at Badari a fragment of a pottery hippopotamus on which is the design of a ship and men with harpoons, evidently meant as surrounding the animal with intent to destroy it.

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