Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    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.

  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 13.8 centimetres
    • Width: 19 centimetres
    • Depth: 3.5 centimetres
    • Weight: 0.75 kilograms
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        one side
      • Inscription Transliteration

        hr ỉmn
        hr ỉmʒ
      • Inscription Translation

        gentle of skin
        gentle of charm
      • Inscription Comment

        Painted in front of the woman. Single vertical line of black-painted text.
  • 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. 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 use of hieroglyphic as against hieratic script may suggest that the scene parodies more decorous representations.

    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.


  • Bibliography

    • Trismegistos 393032 ( bibliographic details
    • Parkinson 1999 82 bibliographic details
    • Demaree 2002 pl.106 bibliographic details
  • Location

    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

  • Condition

    fair (incomplete)

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number



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Object reference number: YCA22242

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