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Gilded Statuette of Tutankhamun with a Harpoon

 Many scholars accused the ancient Egyptian art of being static the statues were always either seated or standing and especially those of kings. But this statue of Tutankhamun harpooning made them reject this idea; it is an exception of the rules of traditional art. The king is represented in full action just about to hurl a harpoon into the flesh of an invisible enemy, which in our case is probably a hippopotamus lurking in the swamps. It is one of a pair discovered in the Treasury. 

 
It was coated with gesso and gilded. The eyes are inlaid with calcite and obsidian, set in bronze sockets, same metal being used for the eyebrows. The king is shown standing on a papyrus boat made out of wood painted dark green with some parts gilded. Below the boat there is a black wooden pedestal. He is wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt, a wide collar, pleated kilt with central tab and sandals. He is holding a harpoon in his right hand and a coil of rope in his left hand with which he would tie his captured enemies. The uraeus, sandals, harpoon are made of gilded bronze but the rope is not gilded. 

Gilded Statuette of Tutankhamun with a Harpoon

How did ancient Egyptians hunt hippos?


In Pharaonic times hippopotami were spotted frequently at the swamps and papyrus marshes of the lower Nile. Ancient Egyptian nobles hunted them and representations of such hunts were sometimes included among the wall decorations of the tombs. The method employed was to attach a cord to a barb and to project it by means of a harpoon towards the victim. When several barbs entered the body of the animal so that it had become weak through loss of blood, it was pulled to the bank by the ropes and killed.



Ancient Egypt Fishing Facts

This statue can be associated with the legend of Horus of Behdet (or Edfu): According to a legend preserved in a late text on a wall of the Temple of Edfu, the god Re-Horakhty when he ruled on earth conducted a military campaign into Nubia accompanied by his son, Horus. While still away from home he received news that his throne was in danger and he decided to go back to Egypt. On reaching Edfu he instructed Horus to attack the enemy, whose identity is not at that point specified, though subsequently reference is made to Seth and his followers. 
 
Ancient Egypt Fishing Facts 

Horus carried out the attack by first flying to the sky in the form of the winged solar disk and then swooping down on the enemy, killing very many, though a number seem to have escaped. Thinking that his victory was complete, he returned to the boat of Re-Horakhty. The surviving enemies however changed themselves to hippopotami and crocodiles in order to attack the sun-god in his boat. Once more the battle was taken up by Horus and this time he and his followers slaughtered the enemy with harpoons, pursuing them down the Nile until they were completely destroyed.


Why was the hippopotamus not included in this statue?


It is obviously for magical reasons because he is one of the forms of the god Seth so his presence might be a source of danger to the king in the afterlife.




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