Posted by: iMalqata Blog | February 25, 2019

I’d Rather Have a Handle Than a Nail

I’d Rather Have a Handle Than a Nail

Janice Kamrin

First of all, spoiler alert. We are finding more architecture in the West Settlement, but more on that later. In the meantime, Mahmoud, Ja’allan, and Sa’ad, with assistance from our sharp-eyed junior workmen, continue to find bits and pieces of this and that among the sherds and bones — a bead here, part of a ring shank there, and of course pottery everywhere. It’s especially interesting to see what lies in the sterile levels just above what we consider the desert surface – the other day we found bits of a very dead and dried out scorpion, a small egg of some sort, and some pieces of very modern-looking bread.

Today, Mahmoud was working in a promising looking deposit of sherds near the surface, and found this very interesting object.

Our “handle,” JEMWS.2019.16

It seems to be made out of some sort of metal, and looked at first like perhaps it was a handle from a small vessel. But that didn’t really make sense, so I took it to my colleagues over in the Industrial Site for a consultation. We looked at it together, and Diana noticed the red color indicating rust. So we were able to rule out immediately that it was ancient, since iron would not have been used for any sort of vessel – the only iron available to the Egyptians at that time was meteoric.

Another view

Ivor happened to be there as well, having left his “photo studio” (otherwise known as the guard hut) to take some photographs for Diana. He took one look and suggested that it might be a nail that had gotten bent. We all thought that was a great idea, and Hassan confirmed that it was most likely an old-fashioned nail, no longer used but found in antique furniture and older buildings.

Antique nails from the Barkhamsted Archaeological site

It’s always interesting to see what wanders into an archaeological deposit!


  1. Curious! Although quite small, I could imagine this as a handle or a hook that was affixed to something (wooden?) that has rotted away. The position of the rust spots may be telling. As regards the rust, ferrous residue can be found in many of the metals used in AE. Non-meteoric iron is contained in numerous ores and was possibly used as a flux in copper smelting. Its graceful shape makes me think it’s not a bent nail!

  2. Thanks, Rhio! We’ll show it to Debbie Schorsch, our metal expert back home, and see what she thinks.

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