Ancient Egypt: History and culture
    Ancient Egypt: The Turin erotic papyrus

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The Turin Erotic Papyrus

Line drawing of the Turin erotic papyrus
Line drawing after the rather fragmentary papyrus
- -     Found at Deir el Medine, this New Kingdom papyrus with its strange mixture of erotic scenes and animal satire has caused people to speculate as to what it is about. The satires appear to be straight forward: animals are engaged in human activities which range from playing the harp to waging war, including a lotus crowned cat making love to a goose. These kinds of depictions can be found occasionally and seem to have amused the ancient Egyptians
    As might be expected it is the sex part which divides opinions: is it, as Manniche suggests, a depiction of whorehouse scenes,[1] pornography, a satire on the sexual desires of elderly men, a sex manual or has it religious significance depicting fertility rites? The last suggestion is the least probable one. The oversized phallus appears often in reliefs or statues of fertility gods (see Amen), but otherwise these pictures seem to have little in common with the divine.
    Interpreting it as a ribald satire seems most appropriate, in tune with the opening animal scenes: Somewhat disheveled elderly men lusting after pretty young women are, depending on your point of view, irritating, pathetic or funny. In his imagination, where his erections are enormous and coital positions are varied and exciting, a man's performance is generally more remarkable than it is in reality. The papyrus hints at this by depicting the exhausted lover being carried off - his limp member decorated by a lotus flower belonging to the girl supporting his buttocks, or by suggesting that the act may be over before the woman perched on her stool has had time to enjoy herself and begs the man: Contain your pleasure; your penis is within me ...

On the other hand, may be not.


[1] Lise Manniche, Sexual Life in Ancient Egypt, Routledge, 1987, p.107
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These are just suggestions for further reading. I do not assume any responsibility for the availability or content of these sites.
-Apuntes sobre las Erótica AEgyptiaca y la sexualidad en el Antiguo Egipto by Jorge Roberto Ogdon
-Eros in Egypt by David O'Connor

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