Hippo sculpture from the Ancient Egyptian 1st Dynasty, about 500 years before the Great Pyramid. Googling around on a lazy retired guy afternoon—hippo 1st dynasty were the magic words—I found a whole mess of little hippopotamus statuettes, though this one was by far the cutest. Whether it was cute to an Egyptian five thousand years ago I have no idea. Often the hippo statuettes were gifted to a funereal deity they’d dubbed Khentiamentiu, who from what I could tell of the absurdly academic prose (perfect grammar, confusing writing, people learn the wrong stuff in school) is that this undefined deity “precedes Osiris”, your guess being good as mine. Hippos were also strong and murderous and dangerous so sometimes the statuettes represented those characteristics, and sometimes they’re pregnant and represent fertility, the Egyptians being a wonderfully horny civilization. Mesopotamian civilizations were too, though fertility there tended to go with war. It’s complicated. In Egypt fertility instead often went with hippos, not so much complicated as it was kinky. Anyway, our darling little hippo here really looks far too cute to be either warlike or kinky. It just looks cute. So maybe instead it’s the Nile. Sometimes a hippo just represented the Nile. Egyptians way back when could look at a little hippo figurine and think oh, that’s the Nile. Really. Don’t ask.

Splendid little photo by Allison Fisk on Twitter.

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