Posted by: iMalqata Blog | February 23, 2019

What’s the Point

What’s the Point

Diana Craig Patch

Every season the work at the Industrial Site has produced a wonderful example of a tool. In 2015, almost immediately after opening the first square, we found a perfect flint awl. In 2016 and 2017, we were intrigued by what appeared to be discarded copper alloy drill bits. This year we have a spectacular micro-chisel.

All of us are familiar with chisels. Very practical tools, they can be fashioned with different types of edges that allow a craftsman to accomplish the splitting or cutting of stone, wood, and metal. If the task requires splitting stone or wood, a big chisel is positioned and then hit with a hammer, or in the case of ancient Egypt, probably a wood mallet. When chisels are needed for finer work, the tool is pushed into the material by hand in order to remove what isn’t wanted. The size of the chisel and the style of the edge changes depending on what the work is; smaller chisels are needed for detailed work in wood and other soft materials.

Carpenters at work. Facsimile from the Tomb of Rekhmire, Thebes.
Rogers Fund, 1935 (35.101.1)

This tiny copper alloy chisel, only 2.5 cm long, is perfectly formed and remarkably preserved. The slightly reduced and rounded proximal end may have been designed as such to be hafted in a small wood handle that would have made it easier to manipulate the tool. The distal end was fashioned into a sharp beveled edge that is somewhat splayed, allowing a craftsman to cut the material cleanly, or to trim or neaten tiny grooves or spaces in the object under manufacture.

View of the chisel (JEMIS.2019.69)
Second view of the chisel (JEMWS.2019.69)


  1. Diana – Many thanks for the post and the picture of the mini-chisel! Very cool.

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