Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Button or Spindle Whorl

Object Name:
Button or spindle whorl
30 B.C.–A.D. 364
Found/excavated Egypt, el-Bahnasa (Oxyrhynchus)
Bone; incised and inlaid with paint
H. 1/4 in. (0.6 cm)
Diam. 1 1/4 in. (3.2 cm)
Ivories and Bone
Credit Line:
Gift of Egypt Exploration Fund, 1897
Accession Number:
Not on view
The dot-in-circle motif recalls designs presumed to be of magical significance, most likely an abstract eye to ward off the evil-eye, which serves an apotropaic function. Easily reproduced with a tool and visible in many cultures and times, this symbol may have lost its meaning, and become simply a decorative pattern, or may have one that we have not yet discovered
Egypt Exploration Fund, London (until 1897; gifted to MMA)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Metropolitan Museum of Art Egyptian Catalogue. New York, 1898. no. 2169.

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