From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Workmen's Huts near KV 55 (site 18) or Between K, Davis/Ayrton excavations, 1907–08
h. 7.7 cm (3 1/16 in); w. 4 cm (1 9/16 in)
Gift of Theodore M. Davis, 1909
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 117
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. One side of this limestone ostracon bears traces of an hieratic or text written in black. The other side bears remains of a text written in red.
Excavated in the Valley of the Kings by Theodore M. Davis, 1907-1908; acquired by Davis in the division of finds. Donated to the Museum by Davis, 1909.