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Stiles in Form of Tyt and Djed-Pillars

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
Wood, Bone, and Ivory in the New Kingdom

Egyptian artists were resourceful in overcoming the problems of working with difficult materials to make the objects seen here.


Egyptian trees, such as acacia, sycamore, and tamarisk, are too small to produce large planks. Carpenters working with native woods thus had to develop complicated joinery techniques to build large objects like coffins and furniture. For expensive luxury items they used timbers such as ebony, cedar, and juniper, imported from Nubia and Punt to the south and Syria and Lebanon to the northeast. Ancient craftsmen used tools that would be familiar to modern carpenters, including adzes, chisels, reamers, and saws. Many ancient Egyptian wooden objects left in tombs as funerary offerings have survived remarkably well. Undisturbed tombs maintain extremely stable climatic conditions, slowing the effects of repeated expansion and contraction that are so damaging to wood. Egypt’s relatively dry climate also discourages the growth of mold, insects, and microorganisms that feed on wood.

Ancient Egyptian ivory used for carving came from the tusks of elephants and hippopotami. Elephants had probably disappeared from Egypt by the end of the Predynastic Period (circa 3100 B.C.E.), so their ivory had to be imported from Nubia. Hippopotami remained common in the lower Nile Valley until the seventeenth century C.E. Some antiquities mistakenly said to be made of ivory are actually made of the bones or antlers of cattle, sheep, goats, and antelopes. Egyptians used the often ideally shaped leg bones of these animals to create the handles of tools or weapons.
MEDIUM Wood
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1539-1292 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY XVIII Dynasty
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS (37.253Ea): 8 x 1 7/8 x 9/16 in. (20.3 x 4.7 x 1.5 cm) (37.253Eb): 8 1/16 x 2 3/16 x 5/8 in. (20.5 x 5.5 x 1.6 cm) (37.253Ec): 8 1/16 x 2 1/16 x 11/16 in. (20.5 x 5.3 x 1.8 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 37.253Ea-c
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Stiles in Form of Tyt and Djed-Pillars, ca. 1539-1292 B.C.E. Wood, (37.253Ea): 8 x 1 7/8 x 9/16 in. (20.3 x 4.7 x 1.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.253Ea-c. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, 37.253Ea-c_view2_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION One wooden ty.t or "Isis girdle" (a) and two (b-c) wooden Djed pillars. That these pieces were once part of a piece of furniture is indicated by the presence on each piece, at both the top and bottom, of a tang pierced with a hole. The wood is light, possibly acacia. Condition: a)Upper and lower tangs broken. Partially inlaid with bitumen. b) Lower crossbar chipped in left rear. Adhesive remains around both tangs. Superficial scratching. c) Upper crossbar damaged. Chipped in front. Some adhesive remains on tangs. Superficial scratching, Some bitumen remains.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (86%)
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