Fishtail Knife

Predynastic, Naqada II

Not on view

Blades such as this one were included in burials throughout the Predynastic Period.The cutting edge is the V-shaped notch. Although the implement's exact purpose is unknown, there is persua-sive evidence that it was used at birth to cut the umbilical cord and was placed in the grave to assist its owner's rebirth into the afterlife.

A similar instrument was used throughout Egyptian history in the funerary rite known as the "Opening of the Mouth": touched to the mouth of the deceased's mummy or statue, it symboli-cally restored the individual's capability of independent existence. In addition to the implement, this model set also contains replicas of the vessels with which the newly revived spirit was of-fered milk (a baby's first source of nourishment), salt water (used for cleansing), and fresh water.

Fishtail Knife, Flint

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