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Foreigners in Egyptian Art

The depiction of foreigners in Egyptian art usually follows certain rules. Syrians and people from the Near East in general are often shown with yellow skin, and wearing bright clothes in different colours; the adult males are shown bearded. Libyans were shown after the Old Kingdom with bright skin and tattoos. Nubians are shown with curly hair, dark skin and thick lips; the adult males are not shown bearded. In general it is often impossible to decide, what relation these pictures have to reality. From the time of Tutankhamun (about 1333-1323 BC) a certain ruler of Miam (Aniba) in Nubia, with the Egyptian name Hekanefer, is shown in a Theban tomb as Nubian, while he is shown in his own tomb (in Nubia) as Egyptian.

a Libyan
a Nubian
UC 14407

In the Ptolemaic and Roman period it was common to decorate the foot case of mummies, in cartonnage with the depictions of two foreigners. The dead person was identified with the king who was depicted in many monuments standing on foreigners.

UC 45971

Ritner 1993 (on ritual practices in Egypt)


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