Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Souvenirs from Ancient Egypt

In this post I'm going to try to work up something very small and perhaps not significant into something mildly interesting. If I fail, please be kind!

About 15 years ago, Dr Somebody van Macklenberg, a Portuguese archaeologist friend of my father, sent me what he described as a night lamp. 3000 years old. And made of orange pottery.
Something to be put beside a bed.

This for me wonderful object came in a very large cardboard box from a dig in Egypt. After excavating away layers and layers of newspaper, I found the inch-wide lamp at the centre.

More recently, it's been suggested this ancient artifact was in fact a domestic votive dish ... for unguents offered to gods.

Either way, it's been on my desk ever since - and I look at it more than from time to time. It seems to stimulate my imagination. Big time.

And I was reminded of my treasure when I came across a tiny shard in the desert when I was walking from Aswan in Upper Egypt ...

... across the desert ...

... to an early Christian monestry (St Mark's?) ...

I sometimes wonder what my shard was originally part of.

It's slightly concave. Thin. The 'outside' incised with close concentric circles. Each filled with dark colour.

Any ideas guys?

Suggestions will lead to further imaginings - of course!


  1. Very nice gift. Love the picture of Egypt.

  2. It's significant!!!

  3. It sure look like a puzzle to me.

  4. A magical codpiece perhaps?

    Alan down in Florida

  5. hey ray

    one of the small things i have that i really treasure!

    take care


  6. hey wit


    had my doubts

    but the journey of finding my shard was magical

    take care


  7. hey harmony

    with such a tiny shard - who will ever know what it was part of originally

    maybe a small bowl?

    take care


  8. hey alan

    maybe i'll try it on and see!

    not sure about it's enhancing powers - given its size!

    enjoy the day


  9. Obviously I'm outta my field here with egyptian artifacts, but maybe thats some sort of ... errr .. object to grind wheat or whatever into flour?
    lol - ok I fail.

  10. hey greg

    i fail all the time in so many and embarrassing ways.

    and if i was told it was a pill container i'd believe it!

    being an inch across it'd do some pretty refined and delicate grinding

    but then who knows!

  11. Nick, you know my love and profound knowledge of Egyptology will never let you down, right? having said that (and perused about 68 books on it that I already had near to me because I happen to like the subject, am fascinated by it and...oh, you know) I think it's a pill box ;)

    P.S. I need not insult you with my post-MuchFrustration un-PC wishful thinking that it might be an ashtray as anything to be smoked was not nicotine-related or cigar(ette) shaped, though there's quite a line on snuff utensils I'd be pathetically happy to introduce you to if you hadn't got there first. So it's a pill box. For medium strength tranquilizers and mild anti-psychotics. I mean, it has that "Valium-cum-Risperidone/Halp.. never mind" feel to it. Particularly the never mind, I think.


  12. hey pete

    LOL - was there really any doubt? and i bet an early form of 'Bex' aspirin, known in ancient times, curiously, as 'Ibex Prin'

    i suspect there's a PhD in this new theory - how bout doing a joint thesis? i'm up for it if you are.

    and speaking of snuff as you were, i came across 2 tins of the stuff in a desk drawer - really! that i'd bought in adelaide from a rather old-fashioned shop. 'sparrow mills' brand - their menthol and their rose of sparrow varieties to be precise! verging on the edge of trying them! an obituary will suggest it was not a good idea!

  13. Sorry guys but you are all wrong! (though I love the suggestions, especially the astray!)
    The 'pot shard' is most likely the ancient equivelant to a beer bottle, a most common drink in ancient Egypt, of which there are thousands of shards all over Egypt. The beautiful bowl the friend of your father sent you could be an unguents mixing bowl, unguents offered to the Gods were usually in sealed jars. Must say it does not look anything like a lamp!
    Love the blog.
    Kevin, living in Egypt!

  14. hey kevin

    good to have an expert on hand

    and yep, i saw a squillion shards in the desert here - if i'd had more time i'm sure i could've found something a bit more interesting - but i was on my way up to abu simbel and the nubian border

    living in egypt - lucky dog!

    are you in cairo? sounds as tho a long-ish stay - even luckier!!!

    and glad you like the blog!

    be in touch