Lump of resin - ROM2018_16141_19


Lump of resin

Medium:Resin (Myrrh)
Geography: Excavated from the Tomb of Ahmes, Abydos, Egypt
Date: c. 1580-1550 BC
Period: 17th Dynasty, 2nd Intermediate Period
4 × 2.7 × 1.9 cm
Object number: 905.2.113
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

Myrrh is the resin produced by several species of small, thorny trees of the genus Commifphora. The bark of the tree is chipped with an axe and the ‘tears’ of myrrh are harvested some time afterward.  Myrrh was used by the Ancient Egyptians in perfumes, and as incense in religious rituals. To be used as incense, myrrh is usually cut or ground into pieces about the size of coriander seeds, and scattered over hot coals or a fire.  A small amount of myrrh produces a considerable cloud of incense.

Myrrh trees are not native to Egypt, and do not grow well in the climate, despite serious and determined efforts by the Ancient Egyptians to produce their own supply of myrrh from trees brought back from Punt. Punt is the ancient name for a country whose modern identity is still a matter of some debate, but which was in the neighbourhood of Yemen, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Somalia.  Punt, or Puwent as the Egyptians called it, may have referred to several lands adjacent to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Object History: Excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society, 1902-1904
If you see an error or have additional information, please contact us by clicking here.