Model harpoon - 901.8.113.1_1


Model harpoon

Geography: Excavated at the Tomb of Khasekhemwy, Abydos, Egypt
Date: c. 2890-2686 BC
Period: Reign of Khasekhemwy, 2nd Dynasty, Early Dynastic Period
Object number: 901.8.113.1
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

The copper model tools of the 901.8.113 series were found by Flinders Petrie at Abydos in an intact deposit in the Second Dynasty tomb of King Khasekhemwy. The deposit had been preserved intact due to a happy accident; Petrie recounted that the freshly made mud-bricks used to construct the walls of the tomb had “yielded with the pressure and flowed out sideways . . . It was only owing to this flow of the walls over the objects in the chambers that we succeeded in finding so many valuable things perfect, and in position.” (Petrie, The Royal Tombs of Abydos 1901: Part II, p.12.)

This model harpoon head copies the earliest type used in Egypt, a three-toothed bone harpoon. Generally replaced by the Old Kingdom with single-barbed heads, the three-toothed harpoon may have survived in sport fishing, or at least in symbolic images of fishing in the marshes in tombs, until the New Kingdom. This example, cut from sheet copper, is purely ceremonial.

Object History: Excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society (W.M. Flinders Petrie), 1898-1901
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