From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings
Limestone, ink, paint
l. 14.5 cm (5 11/16 in); w. 10 cm (3 15/16 in)
Gift of Theodore M. Davis, 1909
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 122
Ostraca (plural for ostracon) are potsherds used as surfaces on which to write or draw. The term is used, by extension, to refer to chips of limestone, which were employed for similar purposes. Despite their humble appearances, ostraca bear a wide range of images and texts, including administrative documents, literary texts, and depictions of royal and divine figures. The texts were mostly written with reed pen and ink of two colors, red and black, and inscribed in Hieratic, the cursive script of ancient Egypt throughout most of its periods. This ostracon bears three vertical lines of a hieroglyphic text.
Excavated by Theodore M. Davis in the Valley of Kings, Thebes. Allotted to Davis by the Egyptian Government in the division of finds. Given by Davis to the Metropolitan Museum in 1909.