Cosmetic Box with a Swivel Top

New Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 114

This small ivory box has a lid that is pegged at one end, allowing it to swivel open and closed. The hole at the other end of the lid once held another peg. When closed, the peg in the lid and the peg protruding from the box could be bound together with string to keep the box from opening. The top of the box has been decorated with incised lines that form a rosette framed by a zig-zag pattern. The rosette was probably made using an early type of compass. The decoration was once filled with a material called Egyptian blue. Boxes similar to this one, made of wood, bone, or ivory, probably held dry cosmetics such as rouge.

The box was excavated by the Museum's Egyptian Expedition in 1916. It had been placed near the head of a coffin along with a number of other jars that came to the Museum when the finds were divided with the Egyptian Antiquities Service. These include three jars of Egyptian alabaster (16.10.421, 16.10.423–.424), one small ointment jar of serpentine (16.10.422), two pottery vessels (16.10.427–.428), and three ivory combs (16.10.428–.430).

Cosmetic Box with a Swivel Top, Ivory, Egyptian Blue

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lid ajar