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In Photos: Ancient Egyptian Tombs Decorated with Creatures

Tomb pelican

A colorful pelican was drawn on the wall of a 4,000-year-old tomb at Beni Hassan in Egypt.

A colorful pelican was drawn on the wall of a 4,000-year-old tomb at Beni Hassan in Egypt.
(Image credit: Copyright Linda Evans/Australian Center for Egyptology, Macquarie University, Sydney)

A team with Macquarie University's Australian Center for Egyptology is recording the art drawn on the walls of a group of 4,000-year-old tombs at Beni Hassan in Egypt. The artwork shows depictions of numerous creatures, including a pelican, seen here. The tombs were excavated in the 19th century and are being recorded using modern-day technology, a process that is yielding a new view of the drawings that the 19th-century excavators did not see.

[Read full story on the tomb drawings]

Lots of birds

The pelican is part of a larger painting that shows several birds.

The pelican is part of a larger painting that shows several birds.
(Image credit: Copyright Linda Evans/Australian Center for Egyptology, Macquarie University, Sydney)

The pelican is part of a larger painting that shows several birds. Before the Macquarie University team recorded the tombs, an Egyptian antiquities ministry team conserved and cleaned them.

A mongoose indeed

This ancient drawing on the wall of a tomb at Beni Hassan in Egypt shows a hunter holding the leashes of a dog (bottom) and an Egyptian mongoose (top).

This ancient drawing on the wall of a tomb at Beni Hassan in Egypt shows a hunter holding the leashes of a dog (bottom) and an Egyptian mongoose (top).
(Image credit: Copyright Linda Evans/Australian Center for Egyptology, Macquarie University, Sydney)

This ancient drawing shows a hunter holding the leashes of a dog (bottom) and an Egyptian mongoose (top). This is the only known example of a leashed mongoose drawn by the ancient Egyptians, researchers say. The 19th-century excavators thought that the drawing might be of a leashed mongoose but were not sure; the new recording confirms that it is.

Egyptian hunters

The leashed mongoose and dog are part of a larger scene that includes a group of Egyptian hunters.

The leashed mongoose and dog are part of a larger scene that includes a group of Egyptian hunters.
(Image credit: Copyright Linda Evans/Australian Center for Egyptology, Macquarie University, Sydney)

he leashed mongoose and dog are part of a larger scene that includes a group of Egyptian hunters. It's possible that the mongoose was used to help drive birds out of the bushes so that the hunters could more easily kill them.

Meat-eating mongoose

A photo showing an Egyptian mongoose eating a catfish. The animals range in size from 37 to 47 inches (95 to 120 centimeters) in length.

A photo showing an Egyptian mongoose eating a catfish. The animals range in size from 37 to 47 inches (95 to 120 centimeters) in length.
(Image credit: Artemy Voikhansky CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

A photo showing an Egyptian mongoose eating a catfish. The animals range in size from 37 to 47 inches (95 to 120 centimeters) in length.

Beni Hassan

Beni Hassan as it appears today.

Beni Hassan as it appears today.
(Image credit: Olaf Tausch, CC Attribution 3.0 Unported)

The drawings recorded in the tombs include numerous depictions of creatures, particularly birds. It's possible that around 4,000 years ago, when the drawings were created, the environment around Beni Hassan allowed for more bird life to flourish. This photo shows Beni Hassan as it appears today.

[Read full story on the tomb drawings]