Fragment of a ceremonial throw-stick - 948.34.23_5


Fragment of a ceremonial throw-stick

Medium:Glazed composition (faience), mould-made
Geography: Undetermined site, Egypt
Date: c. 1352-1327 BC
Period: Reign of Akhenaten, 18th Dynasty, Amarna Period, New Kingdom
10 x 4 x 1.5 cm
Object number: 948.34.23
Credit Line: Gift of Sir Robert Mond
Not on view

      This object probably has a very interesting past, and still tells part of its story.

            Throw-sticks were used by the Ancient Egyptians in hunting wild birds; during the twice-yearly migration, great clouds of birds would follow the Nile from the Great Lakes of African to the forests of Europe, and then return. At such times, it was probably quite easy to knock weary birds out of the air as they flocked to swampy areas for rest and feeding. Real throw-sticks, made for hunting, were made of wood, and had a deep curve, rather like an Australian boomerang.This broken throw-stick is made of faience, and both its material and its small size attest that it was never used in an actual hunt. While not much use for disabling birds, it may have been a ritual object, perfectly suitable as a weapon against the demons who haunt the afterlife and lonely desert tombs. Its magic is enhanced by the Eye of Horus painted on the side, and by the powerful name of a king written in cartouche. The name is Akhenaten, Nefertiti’s husband and King Tutankhamun’s probable father. 

            A similar artifact, now in the British Museum, EA 34213, was found in the royal tomb at Amarna, the original burial place of Akhenaten.

            Was this a symbolic weapon, carried in life by the king? Or was it made specifically for his burial? Did the ROM artifact also originate in the king’s burial at Amarna? Unfortunately, the provenance of this artifact is unknown, and its precise purpose is a matter for speculation.

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