Figure of a dog - ROM2018_16147_79


Figure of a dog

Geography: Undetermined site, Egypt
Date: c. 4000-3000 BC
Period: Predynastic Period
6.5 × 3.9 × 10.3 cm
Object number: 910.92.8
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

Animal figurine, difficult to identify because of the very crude workmanship and damage.  Most probably it represents a dog. Canine features include the tail which is curled over the animal’s rump, the pose with the legs stretched forward as if the dog were wiggling its back end and the cast of the head with the tongue protruding. Both the head and the tail areas are damaged and the ears are broken off. There are incised criss-cross incisions all over the body which may indicate the animal’s shaggy coat.  It is difficult to know whether or not some of these incisions may have been hack marks meant to ritually “kill” the figurine.

Dogs are among the earliest domesticated animals and some of the earliest known remains of dogs have a distinctly wolf-like appearance. This figurine clearly represents an early form of the dog that still retains some wolf-like characteristics. Dog figurines are rare in the Predynastic Period; the closest parallels to the ROM piece are a series of small ivory figurines usually identified as gaming pieces from Abu el-Melek and Hierakonpolis. Similar canines with stout bodies, curved tails and prick ears are also represented on a number of Predynastic ceremonial knives, such as the Gebel Araq and Carnarvon carved ivory knife handles.

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