Pharaonic Egypt   :|:   Document

Metropolitan Museum Knife-handle

ref. : en.911.2014 | 23 September 2014 | by Francis Leveque
ivoire | Third quarter of IVe millennium
Egypte (Haute Egypte) ( Egypte )
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The knife handle was discovered in Egypt and given to the museum by Howard Carter in 1926 and is composed of ivory and flint. It dates from about 3200 BC., Nagada II period.

On one side of this handle is a group of 3 recognizes vessels directed to the bottom left. Above them another different style ship moves in the same direction. Significant parts of the decor is erased and can not always be positive as to its interpretation.

The upper boat

It is possible to identify a person sitting right near the stern, looking to the left (towards the bow). On his head maybe he wears the white crown Hedjet of Upper Egypt. The 2 lines front of his face are perhaps the whip (Nekhekh), one of the two scepters of the pharaohs.

A rosette also brings the character and a possible serekh and a crescent moon, as many royal symbols used at the time.

The bottom boats

There are 2 boats right, and maybe a third left. They are crescent-shaped, but the hull is shown as two lines leaving a space between the two surprising. On the boat on the right a bearded(?) figure appears in position to take a rudder. On the other boat a double vertical line may be shows a cabin.


Comme sur l’objet de Qustul cette poignée d’ivoire représente une procession de bateaux accompagnant un roi couronné de la couronne blanche. Sur l’autre face deux rangs de personnages sont tournés vers la gauche, vers une structure ressemblant à un bâtiment. Les personnages du bas sont agenouillés et sont probablement des prisonniers.

As on the Qustul object this ivory handle represents a boats procession accompanying a crowned king of the white crown. On the other side two rows of characters have turned to the left, towards a structure resembling a building. The bottom characters are kneeling and are probably prisoners.


Bibliography :

  • B. Williams, T.J. Logan, W.J. Murnane, The Metropolitan Museum Knife Handle and Aspects of Pharaonic Imagery before Narmer, in Journal of Near Eastern Studies (JNES), The University of Chicago Press , 1987, p.245, fig. 1
  • F. Raffaele , Dynasty 0, in AH, vol. 17, S. Bickel - A- Loprieno eds. , 2003