Arrow shaft fragment - 906.18.3_1


Arrow shaft fragment

Geography: Excavated at Deir el-Bahri, Egypt
Date: c. 2055-2004 BC
Period: Reign of Mentuhotep II, 11th Dynasty, Middle Kingdom
8.25 cm
Object number: 906.18.3
Not on view

This wooden arrow shaft fragment is unusual because the wings to help stabilize the arrow in flight and the notch into which the bow string was inserted were all made of the same piece of wood as the main shaft. This shows great woodworking skill. The arrow shaft was uncovered during the Egypt Exploration Fund excavations at the 11th Dynasty Temple at Deir el-Bahari in which Charles Trick Currelly participated. He called this piece a "barbed arrow-point" and remarked that it was "the only one of its kind I have ever seen." It is indeed a rare piece, but Currelly got it backwards, as it is the butt end of the arrow rather than the point.

Only about 1 cm of the circular arrow shaft itself is preserved, being 8 mm in diameter.  The end of the shaft proper is marked by an incised line. Beyond this, the shaft has been carved to form three wings which would help stabilize the arrow in flight. One wing is broken off, but the other two are about 5.5 cm long and 5mm wide with a rounded aerodynamic outline. Beyond the wings the shaft projects back a further 1.6 cm which contains a small notch c. 8 mm long into which the bow string would be inserted.  One side of the notch is broken off. Two incised lines 6 mm apart mark the continuance of the shaft between the wings and notch.

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