Category: ornithology

Relief of an Egyptian vulture

Neophron percnopterus percnopterus, (also called Pharaoh’s hen), detail of a wall painting from the Mastaba of Nefermaat and Itet, Meidum. Old Kingdom, 4th Dynasty, ca. 2613-2494 BC. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.

Painting from An album of Howard Carter’s watercolours of birds and animals Carter MSS. vii.1

The species is certainly an Egyptian Vulture in spite of the leg colour being yellow (as in the hieroglyph) rather than pink (as in the real bird). 

Carter’s painting of the real bird is of a sub-adult rather than adult but he nevertheless catches all the salient points including the pink feet. The colour pink did not exist in the Old Kingdom palette hence the use of yellow instead. John Wyatt/Griffith Institute