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Scene from a satirical papyrus
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This satirical picture comes from a 3000-year-old document painted in Egypt during the Twentieth Dynasty (about 1186-1069 BC). It is one of several fragmentary papyri possibly found at the site of Deir el-Medina. These papyri form a unique collection of artistic works satirizing society during the reigns of the last Ramesside kings. The scenes are parodies showing animals undertaking human activities.

The natural behavior of the animals is also exploited to satirical effect so that, in a reversal of the “natural order”, they are chosen as particularly inappropriate for the human activities they perform. For example, a cat is shown herding geese or ducks, and in these scenes foxes or jackals form a protective guard for their charges, possibly goats. To the left a lion and an antelope or gazelle play a board game, probably the popular Egyptian game of senet.

Scene from a satirical papyrus

Possibly from Deir el-Medina, Thebes, Egypt, Late New Kingdom, c. 1100 BC.
Ht 15,5 cm.

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