Ripple flaked flint knife

From Egypt
Late Predynastic period, around 3200 BC

A ceremonial knife?

The ripple flaked knives of the late Predynastic period are among the finest flint knives from anywhere in the world. The blades are flaked only on one side, the underside being completely smooth. Great care, and time, was taken to ensure that the flakes on the upper edges are aligned. This suggests that these knives were purely ceremonial.

Each blade was made from a large piece of light brown flint, a colour characteristic of a type of Egyptian flint called chert. The shape of the blade was produced by grinding the surface with a hard stone. Pressure flaking was used to detach small flakes of flint from the upper surface. This method removes the flakes by applying pressure to a very localised area, rather than striking the flint with a hammerstone or other implement. Flakes were removed at a right angle to the long edge of the blade, in two rows. This resulted in the creation of a rippled pattern along the length of the knife. Finally, many tiny flakes were removed from the curved edge of the knife in order to give it a serrated edge. In the late Predynastic period, this type of blade was sometimes set into an ivory handle.

Find in the collection online

More information


A.J. Spencer, Early Egypt, The rise of civil (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)


Length: 23.100 cm

Museum number

EA 59235



Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore