Ivory cosmetic box in the shape of a duck


British Museum

British Museum

Toilet or cosmetic boxes of this sort were extremely popular throughout the Levant in the second half of the second millennium BC. Although Egyptian in origin, they were produced by Canaanite and, later, Phoenician craftsmen. This complete box was found in the palace at Alalakh. A similar box in the shape of a fish, discovered at Tell es-Sa'idiyeh, is now also in The British Museum. Alalakh lies at the heart of the fertile Plain of Antioch and was excavated between 1936 and 1949 by Leonard Woolley. A huge palace complex was revealed, which had been occupied from the start of the second millennium BC. At the time that this box was made, the city was subject to the king of Mitanni, a powerful state dominating north Mesopotamia. However, around 1370 BC, Alalakh was captured and destroyed by the Hittites from Anatolia who were expanding south into western Mitanni. The rebuilt city was finally brought to an end in the thirteenth century BC, most porbably by the Sea Peoples.

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  • Title: Ivory cosmetic box in the shape of a duck
  • Date Created: -1500/-1370
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 13.80cm; Height: 5.30cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: bird
  • Registration number: 1968,1016.1
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Tell Atchana
  • Period/culture: Late Bronze Age
  • Material: ivory
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Excavated by Woolley, Charles Leonard


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