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Copy of an Egyptian bas-relief, Europe, 1801-1930

The original of this bas relief was carved from limestone. It dated from between 1495 to 1475BCE. The relief depicts the Queen of Punt. ‘Punt’ is believed to refer to what is now the Island of Madagascar. The Queen’s distinctive shape may indicate she had a condition called ‘steatopygia’. This was characterised by excessive fat on the buttocks. The condition was usually seen in women. It was common to members of the Khoisan people of Southern Africa. However, it is possible the Queen had a deformity caused by glandular imbalance or muscular atrophy.

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Glossary: relief

Use for images, especially pictorial compositions, executed in relief - a surface that has been carved, molded, or stamped so that an image or design projects from or is sunk into a continuous surface.

Glossary: classical and medieval medicine

No description.

Glossary: steatopygia

Steatopygia, from the Greek steato meaning fat and pygia meaning buttocks, is defined as excessive fat of the buttocks, usually seen in women and sometimes called Hottentot Bustle because it was commonly seen in the Hottentot people of southern Africa. This affliction is characterized by protrusion and excessive fatness of just the buttock region.