Model mirror - ROM2018_16110_63

ROM2018_16110_63

Model mirror

Medium:Copper
Geography: Excavated at Abydos, Egypt
Date: c. 1479-1425 BC
Period: Reign of Thutmose III, 18th Dynasty, New Kingdom
Dimensions:
3.4 × 3.3 × 0.1 cm
Object number: 902.6.56
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt
Description

This small model may be difficult to recognize as a mirror.  In Ancient Egypt, while the elite might enjoy a silver mirror, the more common, but still expensive, mirror was made of polished copper. This was part of a foundation deposit placed beneath the walls of one of the Eighteenth Dynasty chapels near the site of the Ancient Temple to Osiris at Abydos, in an area now called Kom es Sultan. Foundation deposits seem to have been intended to symbolically strengthen and protect a building. They often contain the heads of sacrificed animals, pottery, and miniatures of the bricks and tools used in construction. Foundation deposits can identify the builder, and can enable archaeologists to trace the lines and corners of forgotten walls.


A great many foundation deposits were excavated by Flinders Petrie at Abydos between 1900 and 1902, so many, in fact, that he did not photograph each one. Thus, while we can be sure that the ROM’s foundation deposit tools were from Abydos, and most from the area of the Eighteenth Dynasty chapels, we do not always know which tools were in which deposit. Some of the deposits detailed by Petrie had seven or eight model tools, while others, such as deposit #95, are described only as containing “many very small copper models of chisels scattered over the tops of the pottery.”  


While the models are very small, it’s worthwhile to remember that copper was a valuable commodity, and that each item required being cast and then finished by hand. Petrie found many fragments of finely carved relief from New Kingdom chapels which would have been cut and finished with full sized versions of the tools found in the deposits. Full sized mirrors may have been used in the daily ablutions of the divine images as well as of the officiants.

Collection:
Egypt
Object History: Excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society, 1900-1902
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