Striped ball

Accession Number
Current Location
House of Life (first floor), Votive offerings case
Object Types
Implements and utensils, Toy, Ball | Jewellery, Necklace, Necklace terminal
Middle Kingdom to New Kingdom
Diameter: 36mm
Number of Elements

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A segmented ball in a blue and black geometric patterns. The segmentation is possibly in imitation of a leather or cloth ball. Hollow segmented faience balls like these have been found at the end of necklaces but also seem to have been votive offerings (Pinch 1993, 268-9). Most date to the New Kingdom but some have been found as early as the Eleventh Dynasty. Several have been excavated in the vicinity of the Hathor temple at Faras. Hollow beads are found at other sites dedicated to Hathor such as Deir el-Bahri and Dendera. Broken beads show impressions of reed fibres suggesting that the beads were made by moulding the faience around an organic core. When the faience was heated up, the core would be burnt out (Friedman 1998, 259). Leather balls of alternate colours of between four and twelve segments appear from the Middle Kingdom (Nicholson and Shaw 2000, 309). For example, red and yellow segmented yellow balls have been found in leather from el-Riqqa (UC31433; Nicholson and Shaw 2000, 311, fig. 12.7) measuring about 70mm in diameter. It may be that this faience examples is a copy of such an item, although the faience ones, being fragile, would have been unlikely to have been used in games. In fact, it is possible that even leather examples were not used in games as known examples are from graves. It may be, that like the game of senet, ball games also had religious significance. This example had previously been part of the MacGregor collection purchased by Welcome in 1922.


Friedman 1998 Nicholson and Shaw 2000

Wellcome Number
Other Identity
Unclear MacGregor number written on object in black ink
Sotheby, Wilkinson, & Hodge: 26 Jun–06 Jul 1922, Lot 67A
Previous Owners
Rev. William MacGregor (1848–1937) | Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853–1936)
Long-term loan, The Wellcome Trust (15 Feb 1971)
Last modified: 14 Apr 2022

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