This is another relief from an Old Kingdom tomb at Saqqara, but a little bit younger this time – it’s from the 5th Dynasty tomb of Pehenuka (which means it dates to about 2450 BCE). It’s now in the Brooklyn Museum (acc. no.: 64.147).

It’s a bit of an odd chunk to have chosen to hack out of the tomb for display elsewhere – whilst it is nicely centred on the head of the male antelope, all the little vignettes are broken off. Maybe that was the original block edges, or maybe the collector didn’t care.

I do like the way the original designer composed the scene (even if the collector mutilated it) – the breaking up of the formal registers by having the head of the antelope stick through the baseline provides a striking focal point and brings interest to the image.

This is a desert scene, but it’s a fertile desert – for instance the central antelope is mounting his mate and the one in the bottom right corner is giving birth. The wider scene was of hunting so it was eternally portraying both creation and the imposition of order on chaos.

Relief with a Desert Scene. From Tomb of Pehenuka (D70) at Saqqara. Old Kingdom, mid-Dynasty 5, c. 2472-2455 BCE. Acc. No.: 64.147

See it on my photo site:

Jigsaw puzzles:

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