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Bullfight Scenes in Ancient Egyptian Tombs

José M. Galán
The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
Vol. 80 (1994), pp. 81-96
DOI: 10.2307/3821852
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3821852
Page Count: 17
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Bullfight Scenes in Ancient Egyptian Tombs
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Abstract

Fights between two bulls began to be represented on the walls of local chiefs' tombs in the Sixth Dynasty and lasted until the reign of Thutmosis III, in the Eighteenth Dynasty. The scene has been regarded as one of 'daily life'. However, its symbolic character is suggested by its context and by contemporary religious-funerary texts, and this explains its incorporation into the tomb iconographic repertoire. The deceased is identified with a bull, leader of its herd, when he is forced to defend his status as regional social leader (on earth), which is questioned by the challenge of another leader. The deceased, by overcoming his opponent, is enabled to claim his right to maintain his leadership in the Netherworld. This symbolism of the bullfight was also mobilized in literature and in royal inscriptions.

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