In ancient Egypt, foreign peoples were often depicted as bound captives, as they were thought to bring chaos and disrupt the world order. Contrary to their depictions, foreigners were allowed to live in Egypt as mercenaries and crafts people from at least the end of the Old Kingdom. During the New Kingdom and later, many royal wives, mothers and harem ladies were of foreign extraction or descent, and, as such the rulers themselves were often of mixed race.
Large kneeling figures of foreigners with their arms bound behind their backs are known as far back as the Old Kingdom (see nos. 173-174 in Allen, et al., Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids). Small stone figures of prisoners such as the present example exist in small numbers from the New Kingdom onward. See, for example, nos. 63a-b in Wiese, Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, Die Ägyptische Abteilung.
Such figures may have been used during magic rituals for destroying the enemy. The remains of an actual bound prisoner were recently found under the threshold of a building associated with the New Kingdom Mut temple at Karnak by Johns Hopkins University excavators. The location of this figure suggests that such objects may also have been placed under a sacred building's foundations either as blood sacrifices or in order to scare away unclean interlopers.