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Portrait of Jennifer Miyuki Babcock

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Jennifer Miyuki Babcock

  • School of Liberal Arts
  • History of Art

Ancient Egyptian Animal Fables
Tree Climbing Hippos and Ennobled Mice

One group of ancient Egyptian drawings has captured the curiosity of scholars and laypeople alike: images of animals acting like people. They illustrate animal fables originally from a larger mythological narrative, making them an integral part of New Kingdom Thebes’s religious environment. This book examines the purpose of animal fables, drawing cross cultural and temporal comparisons to other storytelling and artistic traditions.

This publication is also the first thorough art historical treatment of the ostraca and papyri. The drawings’ iconography and aesthetic value are carefully examined, providing further nuance to our understanding of ancient Egyptian art.

Cover of Ancient Egyptian Animal Fables

How did you first come up with the idea for this work?
From my dissertation.

What was your research process like?
I had to travel to many museums and institutions around the world in order to see the images I wrote about in person. Once I got the images together I started to look at them closely and think about how they related to one another. I also read a lot of books and articles that had talked about this material before I got to it. I went to lectures and artwork that didn’t initially seem to be related to my images, but eventually, I realized that there were a lot of intertwining parts.

How long did you work on this before it was published?
Technically since 2011, though there was a long break before I got to the point where I rewrote my dissertation into a book.

Does this work relate to your role at FIT? If so, how?
I teach ancient Egyptian art at FIT, so I sometimes talk about these images in my class.

What was your biggest challenge? What was most rewarding?
The biggest challenge was dedicating time to writing the book while adjuncting and teaching 7 classes a semester. The most rewarding part of this process was seeing the final proofs of the book.

  • Professor at FIT since Fall 2016