c. 1279-1213 BC
Overall: 31.2 x 18.2 x 3.3 cm (12 5/16 x 7 3/16 x 1 5/16 in.)
Weight: approx. 5 lbs
Given in honor of James N. Sherwin, Trustee 1957-1971 1987.156
Ostraca (singular, ostracon) are natural limestone flakes, common to the region of Thebes. The ancient Egyptians who lived there, particularly the artisans of the royal tombs, used them extensively as writing or drawing surfaces, both for practice and for instruction. Some are almost finished works of art; others are clearly sketches. Whether passing idle time or practicing their technique, these pieces provide a rare look at an ancient artist at work. This ostracon is decorated with a scene of the king suckled by a goddess. Although his body is that of an adult, the king (identified by the inscriptions as Ramesses II) appears child size. The goddess wears a long garment of vulture's wings--she could be any of a number of protective mother or sky goddesses.
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