A small inlaid sculpture of a soft-shelled turtle
- Middle Kingdom
- Dynasty 12
- ca. 1991–1802 B.C.
- From Egypt; Said to be from Northern Upper Egypt, Dendera
- Amethyst, turquoise, lapis-lazuli, carnelian, and organic material
- h. 1.6 cm (5/8 in); l. 4.7 cm (1 7/8 in); w. 3.5 cm (1 3/8 in)
- Credit Line:
- Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926
- Accession Number:
This exquisitely manufactured figurine represents an African soft-shelled turtle, Trionyx triunguis. Created from amethyst, a difficult stone to carve, this turtle’s back was inlaid with tiny semi-precious stones designed to imitate the stippled pattern found on the animal’s shell.
This object is a sophisticated example of Middle Kingdom artistic skill and creativity and must have been commissioned by an elite member of society. Animal figurines have a long history as gifts to deities and as burial goods to protect the dead.