Height: 11.400 cm
Width: 5.000 cm (top)
Room 64: Early Egypt
Ivory furniture leg
1st Dynasty, around 3000 BC
Ivory leg of a bed or chair in the shape of a bull's leg
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.
J.H. Taylor, Egypt and Nubia (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)