Scene from a satirical papyrus

Possibly from Thebes, Egypt
Late New Kingdom, around 1100 BC

Animals imitating human activities

This scene comes from a document dating to the Twentieth Dynasty (about 1186-1069 BC) possibly from Deir el-Medina. It is a unique collection of artistic works satirizing society during the reigns of the last Ramesside kings. Scenes show animal figures in reversals of the natural order: a mouse is pampered and served by cats; a baby mouse is even shown in the arms of a loving cat nurse. In this example, a lion and a strange hoofed creature, possibly an antelope or gazelle, play a board game and a cat herds geese or ducks.

The illustrations parody scenes of human activity and are found on several fragmentary papyri. They are not caricatures of social groups or illustrations to animal fables as has often been suggested.

Find in the collection online

Scene from a satirical papyrus

  • Detail



More information


E.R. Russmann, Eternal Egypt: masterworks of (University of California Press, 2001)

R. Parkinson, Cracking codes: the Rosetta St (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)

S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Length: 59.700 cm
Width: 15.500 cm

Museum number

EA 10016


Acquired in 1834


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore