Sketch on limestone - ROM2018_16310_9


Sketch on limestone

Geography: Excavated at Deir el-Bahri, Egypt
Date: c. 1550-1069 BC
Period: 19th-20th Dynasty, New Kingdom
7.1 × 7.3 × 0.8 cm
Object number: 907.18.7
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

'Ostracon' is the word that archaeologists use for the flakes of limestone that Ancient Egyptians used as notepads.  A clean, fresh break in the limestone from the hills of Western Thebes often exhibits a flat surface ideal for writing out lists, making notes, and for sketching.  Some sketches on ostraca are so skillful that they may be preliminary drawings for more formal paintings, or in themselves be votive offerings to the gods, or gifts to living people or to the dead.

This ostracon was almost certainly a trial piece on which an apprentice tried his hand at drawing a bull, a bird(top) and a human (to the right).  Only the left hand and forearm of a male human figure is visible.  The bovine, coloured with white red and black splashes, seems particularly cheerful and lively.

As usual with ostraca, the piece is small enough for the artist to have held it in his left hand as he drew with his right.

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