Rope - ROM2018_16322_35



Medium:Palm fibre
Geography: Excavated at Deir el-Bahri, Egypt
Date: c. 1550-1069 BC
Period: 18th-20th Dynasty, New Kingdom
78 × 3.5 cm
Object number: 907.18.891
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

The Ancient Egyptians made fine ropes from many fabrics: papyrus, halfa grass, flax and esparto grass, but from earliest time until the present, palm fibre has been one of the most important sources for cordage.  Palm fibre is a naturally occurring fabric-like material which is found at the crowns of date trees (and sometimes along the whole stem) and is easily harvested.  It's a non-polluting, renewable, natural resource.

Images of people spinning or twisting separate fibres into yarn, and then twisting the yarn to form strands, and the strands into rope, have been found in many Egyptian tombs. Making rope and cord was a major industry.  The people who made good strong ropes are the unsung heroes of pyramid construction.

This example of ancient palm-fibre cordage is made of three ropes twisted together, with a right-hand twist. Though Ancient Egyptian palm fibre rope has sometimes been known to retain its strength, this particular example is very brittle.  It’s been cut at both ends, leaving raw tips.  Such heavy rope could have been used to remove the statues and sphinxes of Hatshepsut that were later found broken and dumped in a quarry at Deir el Bahari. 

Object History: Excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society, 1907-1910
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