Egyptian Faience Hippo, Middle Kingdom, 11th-12th Dynasty, C. 2000 BC
Hippo figures served as grave goods in the Middle Kingdom, as the hippopotamus was a symbol for regeneration in the afterlife. The drawings on the figure are meant to mimic the natural habitat of the animal. Here the hippo is surrounded by lotus buds and flowers with a flying bird overhead, just as it would be in a papyrus thicket. This piece is probably from Thebes.