Wand - 935.20.131_1



Geography: Excavated at Armant, Egypt
Date: c. 4000-3200 BC
Period: Predynastic Period, Naqada I-II
11.4 x 4 x 0.7 cm
Object number: 935.20.131
Credit Line: Gift Of Sir Robert Mond
Not on view

Predynastic ivory “wands” (sometimes referred to as “tags” when worked, or simply “tusks” when left in their original shape), come from Upper Egypt and date to the Naqada I (ca. 4000-3500 B.C.) and Naqada II (ca. 3500-3200 B.C.). They have been found in both tombs and settlements, and have often been found in sets or pairs. The exact function of these objects is not known, and may be dependent on the specific context in which they were used or even the form they took, which could sometimes include figural decoration. However, due to the fact that they are most often made from hippopotamus ivory, they seem to be symbolically associated with hippos and the hunt. Because of such associations, these “wands” likely had a protective function

The shape of this ivory wand or “tag” follows the curve of the tusk from which it was carved, and is relatively thin in section. It bears incised linear decoration in the form of a “zig-zag” motif over the surface, consisting of sets of three parallel lines, as well as further incised decoration around the edges which gives the object a serrated appearance. At the base is a single perforation and a groove which would have likely been used for lashing. Although the tip of the wand is missing, it may be possible to reconstruct its appearance from a wand found in the same location, namely grave 1461 at Armant (ROM 935.20.30). The tip would likely have been relatively rounded and also bourn the aforementioned “serration”, and the parallel lines over the surface would probably have continued near the tip. 

Object History: Excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society, 1935
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