Hieratic Ostracon

New Kingdom
Dynasty 18
ca. 1184–1070 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Workmen's Huts near KV 55 (site 18) or between KV 18 and KV 21, or from chip heaps in same branch of Valley, Davis/Ayrton excavations, 1907–08
Limestone, ink
h. 5.8 cm (2 5/16 in); w. 5.6 cm (2 3/16 in)
Credit Line:
Gift of Theodore M. Davis, 1909
Accession Number:
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. This ostracon bears three incomplete lines of hieratic text, possibly a list of commodities.
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.