Why does this have a hole in it?
This object likely originated as part of a piece of furniture, with the hole being used to join two pieces of wood. Wood had to be imported into ancient Egypt so it was quite expensive and rare. However, more woodworking survives from ancient Egypt than some other places because of the climate.
Bound figures, which usually represent defeated enemies, could represent the might of Egypt and the power of the owner.
This piece is hilarious.
I agree! I photographed it the first time I came to this museum, before I worked here, because I thought it was so funny. It would have been part of a piece of furniture, that's what the hole is for. The ancient Egyptians thought they were the rightful rulers of the world so sometimes they depicted foreigners trampled underfoot, like this poor fellow.
You're right, ancient history is not always nice...in fact, it's frequently not nice!
Why is this carving's head turned this way?
It does look pretty unusual doesn't it, he is meant to look uncomfortable! Bound prisoners with contorted bodies were relatively common in ancient Egyptian decorative arts. They represented foreign prisoners of war and, by association, Egyptian domination over their neighbors.
In a furniture fitting like this one, the head contortion also helps to streamline the object and make it better fit into its place.
Ah! That makes sense! Thank you
Why is the head sideways?
Often in Egyptian Art you'll see a unique combination of perspectives that allows a viewer to get the maximum amount of visual information from a single point of view!
We aren't certain how exactly this figure was used, but it seems likely that it was attached to a piece of furniture and it may be that the head is facing in the direction that would be most visible.