As well as the formal art that we have so much of from Ancient Egypt there are also quite a few examples of informal art drawn on flakes of pottery or stone called ostraca, like this one. It’s part of a genre of art showing animals acting like people.

As there’s no text to go with this (or the other examples) it’s hard to know what the context of the drawing is. It might illustrate some story that was part of the oral culture of the normal people of Ancient Egypt that never got immortalised in any textual sources.

Or it might be a parody of the scenes the artist normally drew – there are parallel scenes of men herding geese (for instance in TT39). Or maybe it’s a satirical comment on the elite? “They’re just like cats herding geese, and you know what a cat does when it catches the goose!”

Ostraca Depicting a Cat Herding Geese. From Deir el Medina. New Kingdom, Dynasty 19-20, c. 1291-1075 BCE. Acc. No.: JE63801

Found at Deir el Medina and now in the Cairo Museum (acc. no.: JE63801).

There’s a paper on animal scenes on ostraca that I found while writing this piece:

See the photo on my photo site:

Jigsaw puzzles:

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