This relief belongs to a group of artefacts, the so-called “Campana reliefs”, produced in the central-Italic area (especially Rome and Latium). These were published for the first time in 1842 by the Marquis Giovanni Pietro Campana (1809-1880), a notable figure among Roman collectors, who undertook numerous excavations in Rome and in the surrounding area.
The so-called Campana Museum, made up of terracottas of different types of Greek, Etruscan, Magno-Graecian and Roman origin, was confiscated in 1859 by the papal authorities and divided among various museums, including the future Victoria and Albert Museum, the Hermitage and the Napoleon III Museum.
The clay plaques, which make up an important part of the collection, date from the mid-first century B.C. to the mid-second century A.D., and present a re-working of motifs from different traditions: near Eastern, Greek, Egyptian and Egyptian-inspired.
The depiction of the Nile landscape is a very common theme, characterised by typical plants, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, storks and pygmies guiding a boat, in accordance with the stereotypical image that the Romans had of Egypt and of the Nile Valley It is likely that this reconstruction of the environment was used in a sacred context, to contextualise the origin of various ritual practices. However, the place of discovery of these plaques, which would have enabled a more precise evaluation and interpretation, remains unknown.