Explore highlights
Ivory furniture leg


Height: 11.400 cm (max.)
Width: 5.000 cm (top)

EA 29433

Room 64: Early Egypt

    Ivory furniture leg

    From Egypt
    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)


    Browse or search over 4,000 highlights from the Museum collection

    On display: Room 64: Early Egypt

    Shop Online

    Pocket guide to animals of Ancient Egypt, £6.99

    Pocket guide to animals of Ancient Egypt, £6.99