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 Museum Explorer

Birds and beasts in
Ancient Egypt

A baboon eating

Height: 10.500 cm

EA 8507

A baboon eating

From: Thebes, Egypt
Date: 19th Dynasty, around 1200 BC

This little sketch may be just a doodle drawn on a handy bit of limestone. It shows a hungry baboon who has taken a fig from a dish and is stuffing it into his mouth. Wild baboons were sometimes caught and tamed by the ancient Egyptians who kept them as pets. Unfortunately, hunting has now made them extinct in Egypt.

The artist may have just wanted to paint a funny picture, or it may have an extra meaning. Baboons were the animal of the moon god Thoth, and the howling noise that they made at dawn was believed to be a greeting from the moon to the rising sun. Thoth was sometimes shown as a baboon, and baboons were mummified as presents for him.