El-Amra clay model of cattle

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El-Amra clay model of cattle
El-Amra cattle british museum.JPG
Material Pottery
Size Height: 8.2 cm (3.2 in)
Length: 24.2 cm (9.5 in)
Width: 15.3 cm (6.0 in)
Period/culture Naqada I
Place El Amra, grave a.23
Present location Room 64, British Museum, London
Identification 35506
Registration 1901,1012.6[1]

The El-Amra clay model of cattle is a small ceramic sculpture dating from the Predynastic, Naqada I period in Ancient Egypt, at around 3500 BC. It is one of several models found in graves at el-Amra in Egypt, and is now in the British Museum in London. The model is (at maximum) 8.2 centimetres high, 24.2 cm long and 15.3 cm wide. The model was made from clay, and fired at a low temperature before it was painted, however most of the paint is lost.

El-Amra shows four cattle standing in a row, depicted with black and white markings, with horns turned in and downwards. The head of one of the cows is missing, as are various parts of horns.[1] This model was placed in a tomb, presumably to represent a source of food available to the deceased in the afterlife. At this very early stage of domestication Egyptian cattle were probably used mainly as a source of blood rather than for meat or dairy products. Traces of linen survive on the model, suggesting it was either placed in the grave under a cloth, or completely wrapped in one.

The model was donated to the British Museum by the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1901 and was conserved in 1993 prior to being displayed in the Museum's newly refurbished Early Egypt Gallery (Room 64).[2]

In 2010 the model was included as the eighth object in the series A History of the World in 100 Objects by British Museum director Neil MacGregor, broadcast on BBC Radio 4.[3]


  1. ^ a b Collections database record: 1901,1012.6
  2. ^ Egyptian clay model of cattle, British Museum, accessed June 2010
  3. ^ "A History of the World - Object: A model of four cattle buried in a grave in Egypt". BBC and British Museum. 22 September 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2010. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
7: Ain Sakhri lovers
A History of the World in 100 Objects
Object 8
Succeeded by
9: Maya maize god statue
This article is about an item held in the British Museum. The object reference is EA 35506; registration number: 1901,1012.6.