Five significant features in Old Kingdom spear-fishing and fowling scenes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


This paper will examine a number of features consistently represented in scenes where the King or tomb owner is shown as a major figure spearing fish and catching fowl in the marshlands. Comparative analysis with other scenes dating to the Old Kingdom from the Memphite and provincial cemeteries, has identified five important features and include: the type of kilt, wig and headdress worn by the major figure; the rendering of the umbels in the papyrus thicket; the shape of the papyrus boat and the arrangement of the water weed in the scene.
The first detail to be addressed is the garment worn by the major figure in a spear-fishing and fowling scene. There are various types of kilts worn by the tomb owner, such as the wrap around kilt with or without a projecting point and the shendjit kilt, the latter of which is normally worn by the King or tomb owner when participating in outdoor activities such as a desert hunt or marsh pursuits. The second feature to be discussed is the type of wig worn by the tomb owner in a spear-fishing and fowling scene. The major figure can done a short wig or a shoulder length wig and can also be shown wearing a fillet and streamer or a papyrus headdress. A fillet and streamer is worn by both men and women and is again normally associated with outdoor activities. There are a few rare examples where the tomb owner wears a fillet and streamer outside the context of a marsh scene and the first attestation is in the tomb of Neferi at Giza, dated to the reign of Khufu. In this scene the tomb owner is shown standing adjacent to a doorway and holding a staff. The third detail to be examined is the representation of the umbels above the papyrus thicket. The umbels can be placed at different heights and spaced irregularly or can be shown in several structured rows where the tops of the umbels are straight or curved. The fourth feature to be analysed is the shape of the papyrus boat, which can take several forms. The stern of the boat can be shown to gradually curve upwards and extend very high, as in the spear-fishing scene of Hetep-her-akhet at Saqqara, or the stern and prow can curve upwards at both ends, a detail depicted in the fowling scene of Iyi-nefert at Giza. The final detail to be analysed is the positioning of the water weed in a spear-fishing and fowling scene. The weed is frequently shown beneath the stern of the papyrus boat, however it can also be represented under both the prow and stern.
The paper will analyse each feature and establish whether the different types of wigs, garments or changes in the details of a spear-fishing and fowling scene are the result of chronological development, variations due to the tomb's geographical location or specific to an individual tomb. The results, together with additional archaeological and textual evidence, may assist in refining the dates of certain Old Kingdom tombs and fragments.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTenth International Congress of Egyptologists
Subtitle of host publicationabstracts of papers
EditorsP. Kousoulis
Place of PublicationRhodes
PublisherUniversity of the Aegean
Number of pages2
ISBN (Print)9789608719750
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventInternational Congress of Egyptologists (10th : 2008) - Rhodes
Duration: 22 May 200829 May 2008


ConferenceInternational Congress of Egyptologists (10th : 2008)


  • Egypt
  • Ancient Egyptian Art
  • Iconography
  • Old Kingdom history
  • Images
  • Tombs
  • Elite identity


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