Artificial eye

Accession Number
Current Location
In storage
Object Type
Tomb equipment, Coffin/sarcophagus/cartonnage, Artificial eye
Late Period
Twenty-fifth Dynasty
Metals/alloys (Copper alloy) | Shell
Nubia, Sanam, Tomb 691
Height: 31mm | Width: 59mm | Depth: 20mm
Number of Elements

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Inlaid eye from a wooden coffin. Copper alloy (bronze) frame with white (ostrich egg?) shell inlay. The pupil is now missing, as is part of the metal frame. Heavy corrosion. The eye is a pair with W626, which were recovered from tomb 691 at Sanam (Nubia). Tomb 691, which dates to the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, was excavated during the 1912–13 season of the University of Oxford Excavations in Nubia led by Francis Llewellyn Griffith. The tomb record reads as: "Cave tomb, 15 steep steps, drop of 70 to narrow platform before embrasure, approach L. 380, W. 100–120, total D. 380, main chamber 600 by 180, with two side chambers, axis 320. On floor of main chamber, pair of bronze eyes and eyebrows from a wooden coffin, the former inlaid with white (ostrich egg?) shell on which is fixed a raised disc of obsidian? as pupil; fragments of hollow bronze; some bluish glaze tubular and ring beads; [smaller green and yellow glaze tubular beads; a few small yellow red green and black ring beads; small yellow ball beads]. In entrance, sandstone table of offerings with papyrus stem in middle and 8 loaves between hes vases, 40 by 35, including spout." The eyes were presented to the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum in 1921, although there is no mention of the eyebrows in the Wellcome registration records. The pupils were present during the registration, but have since been lost.


Griffith, Francis Llewellyn 1923. Oxford excavations in Nubia. XVIII. The cemetery of Sanam. Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 10, 73–171. [pp. 84, 106] Lohwasser, Angelika 2010. The Kushite cemetery of Sanam: a non-royal burial ground of the Nubian capital, c. 800–600 BC. London: Golden House. Lohwasser, Angelika 2012. Aspekte der napatanischen Gesellschaft: archäologisches Inventar und funeräre Praxis im Friedhof von Sanam - Perspektiven einer kulturhistorischen Interpretation. Denkschriften der Gesamtakademie 67; Contributions to the Archaeology of Egypt, Nubia and the Levant 1. Wien: Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. [pp. 92, 462]

Wellcome Number
Previous Owners
Francis Llewellyn Griffith (1862–1934) | The University of Oxford Excavations in Nubia | Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853–1936)
Excavation Details

Found in tomb 691 at Sanam during the 1912–13 season of the University of Oxford Excavations in Nubia led by Francis Llewellyn Griffith.

Long-term loan, The Wellcome Trust (15 Feb 1971)
Last modified: 17 Dec 2020

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