Bone and horn painted with red, black, and white; H. 16 5/16 in. (41.5 cm), W. 29 1/2 in. (75 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1916 (16.2.23)
When archaeologists first uncovered a group of shallow, pan-shaped graves at the site of Abydos in Upper Egypt, they designated the owners as the "pan-grave" people. The burials were accompanied by pottery of Nubian type and weapons of Egyptian manufacture. It is now generally accepted that these graves, found throughout Upper Egypt and Lower Nubia, are evidence of the nomadic Medjayu people, documented in Egyptian texts as fierce warriors who served in the Egyptian army and desert police force from the late Old Kingdom.
One of the most distinctive aspects of pan-grave burials are the painted skulls of various horned animals that are found above the graves or in nearby pits. The horns and skull of this example have been decorated with large blocks and bands of red and black, and white dots have been applied to the red areas.