Userhat hunting by chariot in the desert

The reins of Userhat’s chariot are draped around his waist, leaving his hands free for the hunt. In actuality, and certainly in battle, a charioteer would have been in charge. The chariot is a light version, similar to those used in battle (the Egyptians did not utilise heavy chariots). The sides are formed of curved wood pieces, while the bottom and front are basket-worked. The main body is supported by the axis, which has four spokes. Leather thongs are used to link the spokes to the hub and rim, and their presence is recognised by a colour difference (light brown against the red-brown of the wood).Two muscular horses, portrayed in red and white, pull the chariot, their manes especially neatly maintained. The artist attempted to depict the horses in a forceful and distinctive posture: the head is high, the back is arched, and the prominent hindquarters have a curvature similar to that of the mane. It’s worth noting that, like in other tombs, the ancient Egyptians had no idea how to depict the horse, an animal that first appeared during the Second Intermediate Period (about 1700-1550 BC) and was thus unfamiliar to them. Nonetheless, the couple depicted here plainly appear to be galloping, which symbolises the hunter’s arrogance and contrasts sharply with the disordered image of the game in flight.

A quick glance to the opposite wall’s middle register reveals a completely different picture involving a chariot: in the funeral procession, the chariot is completely disassembled, and a horse (pulled in severe disproportion) is led by its reigns.

Userhat bends his bow to its fullest bend and prepares to discharge his arrow in style. The orderly movement of his targeted quarry contrasts well with the control he displays in this challenging exercise. He holds an arrow quiver on his back, and the chariot’s armament includes a sheath for holding javelins, which is now empty.

The scene’s genuine appeal is in the way the wild game is shown. The action takes place in the desert, which is depicted by the lack of greenery, the dark brown tones of the horse and archer, and the milder red-brown tones of the game, as well as the paucity of plants. Green and blue colours have been meticulously removed by the artist.
The fauna has been created to look incredibly realistic. How different from the Old Kingdom, where the quarry was depicted as a static sample; also, no longer depicted are the cages or nets that bordered real wildlife reserves.
Only creatures without horns are seen here, fleeing in a state of unimaginable terror in the face of a hail of projectiles. The artist heightened the impression by highlighting some, but not all, of the bodies in red. Two injured hares jump under the horses’ stomachs, while a third remains lifeless on the ground. While attempting to run, gazelles scurry in all directions; some are injured, while others, already dead or in pain, lie on the ground. Under the horses, two hyenas are depicted; one flees, while the other, already wounded by arrows, turns around, its open mouth dripping with blood.

Object Details

Userhat hunting by chariot in the desert

New Kingdom

Dynasty 18, Reigns of Amenhotep II

1427 to 1401 BC

Egypt, Luxor, Sheikh Abd el-Qurna

Tomb of Userhat, TT56