Bone figure

Accession Number
Current Location
House of Life (first floor), Temporary exhibition space
Object Types
Sculpture, Statue | Implements and utensils, Toy, Doll
Islamic Period
Seventh century CE/AD to Ninth century CE/AD
Animal products (Bone)
Egypt, Armant
Height: 59mm | Width: 14mm | Depth: 10mm
Number of Elements

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This female figure is made from bone. It has a carved head, ears, and nose, with slight traces of the mouth below. The ears were pierced, with only the left ear surviving. Breasts, buttocks, legs, and feet are carved in three dimensions, and there are small holes where the arms might have been attached. A single line is carved above the buttocks with a double line below. A hole is also present in the navel area of the figure. Objects such as these have been interpreted as both fertility figures and toys. It was excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society within the Town of Armant during the 1935–6 season. Based on parallels and accompanying finds, this figure dates to the early Islamic era.


Rutschowscaya, Marie-Helène and Dominique Bénazeth (eds) 2000. L'art copte en Égypte: 2000 ans de christianisme. Exposition présentée à l'Institut du monde arabe, Paris, du 15 mai au 3 septembre 2000 et au Musée de l'Éphèbe au Cap d'Agde du 30 septembre 2000 au 7 janvier 2001. Paris: Gallimard. [p. 217] Shatil, Ariel 2016 Bone figurines of the Early Islamic period: the so called “Coptic dolls” from Palestine and Egypt. In Vitezovic, Selena. (ed.), Close to the bone. Early studies in bone technologies, 296–314. Institute of Archaeology: Belgrade Wiese, André 2001. Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig: die Ägyptische Abteilung. unter Mitarbeit von Silvia Winterhalter und Andreas Brodbeck. Zaberns Bildbände zur Archäologie; Sonderbände der Antiken Welt. Mainz: Zabern. [pp. 226–7] Woolley, C. Leonard 1907. Coptic bone figures. Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 29, 218–220.

Last modified: 17 Sep 2022

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