Arrowhead - ROM2018_16122_17



Medium:Iron, cast
Geography: Excavated at Tell Defenneh, Egypt
Date: c. 664-525 BC
Period: 26th (Saite) Dynasty, Late Period
4.5 x 0.7 x 0.7 cm
Object number: 885.6.99
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

This arrowhead is one of many excavated by Flinders Petrie in 1886, at the site of Tell Dafana in the Eastern Delta. The garrison temple-town, whose ancient name is uncertain, controlled the mercantile traffic on the Pelusiac branch of the Nile. Although some Greek pottery was recovered from the site, which the excavator interpreted as evidence for the Greek settlement, further study of the material culture from the site revealed that Egyptian manufactured material was more prominent. 

The kings of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty established the frontier town and fortress which would have been the first Egyptian town that visitors from the East encountered.  For the Egyptians, the town was well situated as a starting point for expeditions into the Levant.

An extraordinary number and variety of bronze and iron arrowheads have been excavated at this site. The bronze arrowheads were generally of four types: leaf-shaped, rhombic, trefoil with socket, and triangular. This iron arrowhead is rhombic. Iron arrowheads have advantages over bronze, in being lighter and cheaper to make.  Bronze requires both copper and tin, and tin was a scarce resource for the Ancient Egyptians.  Both types of arrowhead could be and were gathered up after battles and reused.

While the arrowheads and other metal objects seems to confirm the presence of a large garrison of Greek mercenaries and of warfare on the site, Petrie, the excavator, thought that such large amounts of metal were also indicative of the presence of workshops and smithies.

At some point near the end of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, the town was pillaged and burned, quite possibly by Assyrians under Nebuchadnezzar.

Object History: Excavated by Sir William Flinders Petrie for the Egyptian Exploration Fund, 1886.
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