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Ivory and related materials

Strictly, usage demands that the term 'ivory' be reserved for the dentine of elephant tusks alone; but somewhat looser definition, encompassing the dentine of other large mammals - hippopotamus, walrus, sperm whale - is gaining acceptance.(Krzyszkowska/Morkot 2000: 320)

There are no detailed studies on the material. Many objects described as ivory might be in reality bone: this applies to much of the material of objects in the Petrie Museum. Bone and ivory are often used for small tools and cosmetic objects. In Pre- and Early Dynastic Egypt small figures and other objects are also often produced in ivory and bone.

(click on the images for galleries and more information on each period: for the Early Dynastic examples the archaeological context is given)

Naqada period
Early Dynastic Egypt

In the Old and Middle Kingdom (about 2025-1700 BC) bone and ivory objects are still common, especially for objects of daily use. However, the material seems less prominent than in the earlier periods.

Old Kingdom
Middle Kingdom

In the New Kingdom (about 1550-1069 BC) bone and ivory become a popular material for luxury cosmetic objects. In the Roman and Byzantine Periods bone was again very popular and treated as cheap substitute for ivory.

New Kingdom
Roman and Islamic Period
UC 26085 UC 58952

remarks on the technology


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