Model axe - ROM2018_16110_51


Model axe

Geography: Excavated at Abydos, Egypt
Date: c. 1479-1425 BC
Period: Reign of Thutmose III, 18th Dynasty, New Kingdom
2.9 × 2.7 × 0.1 cm
Object number: 902.6.50
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

This small model of a rounded axe blade 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.”  This rounded form axe-head with lugs  (in this case, barely indicated) is particularly Egyptian, and had been the usual shape of axe-heads used in carpentry and in battle until at least the end of the Middle Kingdom.  By the Eighteenth Dynasty, such axes seem to have had ceremonial use.

While the tools are very small, it’s worthwhile to remember that copper was a valuable commodity, and that each tool 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.

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