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A trip in History…

First up, we have a flint knife. Contrary to popular belief, lithic[1] technology was used by Egyptians for a long time after the Neolithic[2] age ended. The knife is around 4,000 years old, is thought to have originated in the Middle Kingdom village of Kahun, around 2,000 BCE, and is part of a tool kit that contained both flint and copper alloys.


The discolouration of the lower-right section suggests that each knife would have had a handle made from some kind of organic material, which has been lost over the course of the years. Each knife is surprisingly sharp, but can also be fragile and prone to chips and breaks. This type of tool would have commonly been used for skinning animals and the cutting of meat in general, but could have also been used during times of war and defending the village from invaders.

The village of Kahun adjoins to the north of the Pyramid(El-Lahun) Temple and is currently the largest of the Pyramid towns, discovered to date. Kahun would primarily house the Pyramid workers, but also contained the homes of the Temple Priests and the personnel responsible for the King’s[3] mortuary cult.

Kings, Temple Priests and other notable people would have small statuettes of them, to be placed in shrines or temples. This particular piece is made from basalt and shows the head and shoulders of a woman, wearing a tripartite wig with engraved stripes.

The style of the statuette is common with the Middle Kingdom era, depicting large wigs with prominent ears. This would have been a symbolic gesture, showing that these people were listening to those they reigned over. These statuettes would have had a name inscribed but unfortunately, this one appears to have that section missing.

It has been suggested that this piece may have been part of a larger statuette which contained, either the husband or even the family, but this is just speculation as the section in question, is missing.

When these people died, they believed that the afterlife mirrored their current life and they would be forced to work when the Gods called upon them. So, to tackle this little inconvenience, they built a small object called a Shabti. The idea was, if you were called upon in the afterlife, the Shabti would come to life and do the work for you.

Due to the difference in techniques used, during different periods, it is possible to date these objects by colour. This system dates this particular Shabti to around 1200 BCE and would have been made using some kind of mould. It is made from a material called faience[4] and is considered to be very common in Ancient Egypt.

This one depicts agriculture tools and the hieroglyph symbols for the “God of Osiris” and the job of Priest. Unfortunately, the name is missing.

For those wealthy enough, there would be 360 worker Shabtis, one for every day in the Ancient Egyptian calendar. Sometimes there were extra Shabtis placed to manage the workers to make sure they do not rebel in the after life. There would be a total of 396 Shabtis placed in one tomb. Of course, if you were poor, there would be a limited number of these that would have been placed in your tomb.

Another item found in a tomb is the Scarab amulet. These amulets depicted the sacred Scarabaeus Sacer, or more commonly known as the Dung Beetle. Scarabs were believed to be the God Khepri in beetle form.

As the scarab beetles pushed dung along the desert, it formed a sphere shape and this action was considered to be Khepri, pushing the sun in to the sky. Scarabs also laid their eggs in the center of the dung and soon became known as a sign for rebirth, too.

This particular scarab amulet is made from a material called Syenite and has been dated to around 700 BCE. The material is such a hard stone, that it would have needed a gold leaf to be placed on the bottom, for inscribing on.

The largest type of scarab amulet is called the Heart Scarab. These were placed under the bandages, over the heart. The heart was one of the few, if not the only, organs that were left inside the body during mummification. The heart scarab would have contained an inscription from the Book of the Dead, on the underbelly.

The Egyptians believed that when they died, their heart would speak against them and they would be denied passage to the afterlife. The heart scarab would silence the heart, thus allowing the person passage in to the afterlife.

The weighing of the heart, against a feather.

All the objects are free to touch/hold at The Manchester Museum! – Between 11am – 3pm. I will personally be there on Thursdays 11am – 1pm! Come and check them out!!


Footnotes    (↑ returns to text)
  1. pertaining to or consisting of stone.
  2. Anthropology – pertaining to, or characteristic of the last phase of the Stone Age, marked by the domestication of animals, the development of agriculture, and the manufacture of pottery and textiles: commonly thought to have begun c9000–8000 BCE in the Middle East.
  3. Senusret II. Ruled 1842 – 1837 BCE
  4. glazed earthenware or pottery, especially a fine variety with highly coloured designs.

Copyright © Balthier Lionheart
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