Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Hieratic ostracon

New Kingdom, Ramesside
Dynasty 20
ca 1186–1070 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Davis excavations, 1909
Limestone, ink
h. 13 cm (5 1/8 in); w. 7 cm (2 3/4 in)
Credit Line:
Gift of Theodore M. Davis, 1909
Accession Number:
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 an inscription mentioning a visit by high authorities to the royal necropolis.
Excavated in the Valley of the Kings by Theodore M. Davis; acquired by Davis in the division of finds. Donated to the Museum by Davis, 1909.

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