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Rock tombs at Beni Hassan, Middle Egypt date from the Middle Kingdom dynasties XI (2060-1991 BCE) and XII (1991-1782 BCE) and rank among the most important monuments of Ancient Egypt. They were built for the dignitaries of Menat-Khufu, one of the oldest place names recorded in ancient Egypt. The tomb walls are decorated with mural paintings executed on rocky walls made smooth with plaster. These paintings are radidly deteriorating and most reproductions are from paintings of the originals. A small tree full of birds is shown at the bottom left of the tomb. Egypt is on the major migratory route between Europe and Africa which accounts for a variety of birds depicted in illustrations. After slaughter, birds were plucked and either roasted to be eaten immediately, or dried, salted and pickled in large amphorae. Wildfowl such as ducks, geese and cranes were sometimes fattened for the table and occassionally force-ded with bread and sweetened mash. Ducks and geese were also kept for eggs as were pigeons and pelicans. Domestic flow (chickens) were not introduced into Egypt in any numbers until the roman period (30 BCE-CE 395).
- Carole Reeves