Suckling a Baby Donkey Scene from a New Kingdom Tomb in Saqqara

Document Type : research articles


Faculty of Archaeology Cairo University


During excavations of Zahi Hawass north of the Teti pyramid in the season 2020/2021 a limestone wall relief block was discovered, decorated with remains of three registers of scenes and accompanying hieroglyphic inscriptions. Relief style indicates that it is part of a New Kingdom tomb chapel and the names of the owner, the scribe Djehutyemheb and his wife Iry are mentioned on the block. The names suggest that the block was part of the nearby New Kingdom free-standing tomb chapel of Djehutyemheb(238/tpc). Further the block adds a new title to the wife Iry, namely "chantress of the god Amun". Yet the most remarkable thing about this block is the scene in the middle register showing a group of donkeys that is reminiscent of similar scenes from the Old Kingdom mastabas in Saqqara. This kind of scene though is not common in New Kingdom tombs, and it also shows a unique depiction of a baby Donkey suckling from its mother. So, the question arises if the New Kingdom artist was inspired for the donkey herd scene by the decoration of close by Old Kingdom mastabas in Saqqara.

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