#EqHist2018: Lonneke Delpeut on “The Image of the Horse in Ancient Egypt”

All month long we will be featuring speaker’s abstracts for the upcoming Equine History Conference: Why Equine History Matters. Register now!

The Image of the Horse in Ancient Egypt: A Source of Information and a Piece of Art Lonneke Delpeut, Leiden University

    The horse was introduced into ancient Egyptian society around the beginning of the New Kingdom (ca. 1600 BC). From the beginning of the 18th dynasty, we see the horse depicted in funerary temples belonging to the pharaohs as well as in superstructures of private tombs of Egypt’s elite. My research is about the two-dimensional depictions of the horse, namely the difference between the image as a source of information compared to the image as a piece of art. Every image contains a certain amount of information, and can for example tell us about how the horse is used in Egyptian society, what the Egyptians knew about horses and their behaviour (for example, did they castrate?) and to what extent the horse can be seen as a status symbol. In return, it also tells us about the artistic side of the depiction: how did they transfer a three-dimensional concept into a two-dimensional one and from where did they get their inspiration? A study of the horse in motion tells us about the way the Egyptians displayed the horses’ gaits two-dimensionally. Where was the balance between artistic freedom and naturalistic display, and which of the two takes priority? My presentation will focus on what is depicted versus how it is depicted, and to what extent the representation is naturalistic. I will attempt to display how to read such images and how we might interpret them.

Read her Member Monday profile here.

#MemberMonday: Lonneke Delpeut


Lonneke Delpeut

Leiden University

MA student in Classics

BA in Egyptology




What got you in to history? In to equine history?

   I have always been interested in history, especially the history of ancient Egypt. As soon as I knew that Egyptology existed, I knew that was what I wanted to study. I have 

methorsealso always been a horse girl, so when I found out that there were so many beautiful depictions, two-dimensional as well as three-dimensional, I found the perfect opportunity to combine both my passions: horses and ancient Egypt. I fell in love with this particular object:

Who is your favorite historical horse?

    I do not have a favourite horse in history (although the horse found in the forecourt of the tomb of Senenmut would definitely be in my top-5) but this whip handle is definitely one of my favourite objects.


What are you working on right now?
   My current research involves the study of two-dimensional depictions of the horse in ancient Egypt in private tombs during the Eighteenth dynasty. I compare the image of the horse as a source of information to the image of the horse as a piece of art. Images tell us all kinds of things, like what the horse was used for in Egyptian society, what role the horse played inside the image (e.g. as a status symbol) and about what the Egyptians knew about the horse. On the other hand, the image studied as a piece of art tells us where the artist got his inspiration from, whether or not they saw the horse as a special element considered to other four-legged animals, and, most interestingly, to what extent the image can be considered as a naturalistic display.