Ivory furniture leg

British Museum

British Museum

Ivory was used to make figurines, amulets and other types of ornament. Furniture fittings made of ivory have been found in numerous graves of the First and Second Dynasties. The Egyptian craftsmen probably obtained both ivory and ebony from the south. The island of Elephantine at Aswan acted as the trading centre for these and other commodities from the south, a function reflected in its ancient name of 'Abu' or 'Elephant town'.Trade with Nubia was controlled by forts along the Nile, as far south as Semna under Senwosret III. These fortresses operated for around two hundred years and were never captured, thanks to the constant patrolling of the Egyptian garrisons (as documented in the Semna dispatches) and amicable relations with the local population.Tomb paintings of the New Kingdom show that Nubia was regarded as one of the four corners of the world, over which Egypt had control. Scenes show envoys bringing their tribute to the king, including ebony, skins, exotic animals, and gold ring-shaped ingots. These items are representative of the commodities traded through Nubia from other areas of Africa at this time.

Show lessRead more


  • Title: Ivory furniture leg
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 11.50cm; Width: 5.00cm (top); Depth: 2.70cm; Weight: 0.125kg
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: polished; pierced; carved; sawn
  • Subject: cattle
  • Registration number: 1897,0511.149
  • Place: Found/Acquired Egypt
  • Period/culture: 1st Dynasty; 2nd Dynasty
  • Material: ivory
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from R J Moss & Co


Translate with Google