- Museum number
Ostracon with a scene of sex: limestone ostracon with black-painted scene showing a man having sexual intercourse with a woman. There is a hieroglyphic caption in front of the woman.
Height: 13.80 centimetres
Weight: 752 grammes
Width: 19 centimetres
Depth: 3.40 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- The standing position of intercourse is the one most frequently represented in art, but this need not suggest that it was particularly popular; the woman's figure is slightly androgynous - presumably there was no need to indicate the sex strongly, since it would be assumed from the posture.
Explicit depictions of erotic and sexual acts were uncommon in formal
iconography, although nakedness was abundantly shown in Egyptian art. The purpose of such scenes is uncertain: sexual activity was associated with religious festivity, but the nature of the 'Erotic Papyrus' in Turin and the sketchiness of this and other examples suggest a frivolous, throw-away quality, like doodles on papyri.
The hieroglyphic caption in front of the woman reads ‘gentle is the charm of my skin’. The use of hieroglyphic isntead of hieratic script may suggest that the scene parodies more formal art styles.
For this type of representation cf. Jos. A. Omlin, 'Der Papyrus 55001 und seine Satirisch-erotischen Zeichnungen und Inschriften' (Turin, 1973), p. 35, scene 9.
L. Manniche,'Some aspects of ancient Egyptian sexual life', in 'Acta Orientalia' 28 (1977), 10-23, fig. 3;
W.H. Peck, 'Drawings from Ancient Egypt' (London, 1978), no. 83;
C. Johns, 'Erotica', British Museum Pocket Treasury (London, 1997), 12-13.
I. Regulski (ed.), Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt (London 2022), pp. 210-1
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2013, Apr - Jul, Paris, Louvre, L'Art Du Contour
2013/2014, Sept - Jan, Musée royaux d’art et d’histoire, Brussels, L'Art Du Contour
2018 -2019, 6 Sep - 20 Jan, London, BM, G35, I Object
2022-2023 13 Oct-19 Feb, London, BM, Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt
- fair (incomplete)
- Acquisition date
- Egypt and Sudan
- BM/Big number
- Registration number