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An Egyptian Stone Polisher, Early Dynastic Period, ca. 3100 - 2900 B.C.

Of beautiful pink breccia, this polishing tool is a circular in shape with rounded edges and corners.  The surface is smooth, one face is flat and the other slightly convex.  Marked with museum accession number:  59.301 in black ink.  In "The Stone Age of Egypt" (1914) Rustafjaell notes all stone pounders/polishers were " from a quarry near Gebel Amoun in the Eastern Desert, between Cairo and Suez. Possibly Early Dynastic and used for quarrying stone for the pyramids."

A number of representations of rock polishing are presented in ancient Egyptian art, the most common tool being a piece of rock called a polishing stone or stone rubber (see Petrie Museum #'s: UC2935, UC35657, UC35657, UC392, UC393, UC394, UC395, UC396, UC397, UC398) used for shaping, smoothing, and polishing. These can be rectangular or round shaped blocks of rock with a flat surface on one or more sides. Polishing stones shaped for specific purposes could also be used (e.g. UC5662). The ancient Egyptians made these tools out of a variety of rock types, including granite, basalt, and sandstone (Clark & Engelbach 1930). These tools could be rubbed by hand back and forth or in a circular motion in a set pattern across the surface of the stone object with or without abrasive.

Published:   de Rustafjaell, R.  T he Stone Age in Egypt; A Record of Recently Discovered Implements and Products of Handicraft of the Archaic Nilotic Races Inhabiting the Thebaid  (New York, W.E. Rudge, 1914) page 57,  #591-596.

Condition: Some scratches to the surface, the flat face with noticeable abrasions, small chip to one side; all clear indications of ancient use.  Museum accession number 59.301 is applied in black pigment to the edge of the flat surface, as well as Rustafjaell's original collection sticker that faintly numbers the object as #890.   Intact and in very good condition overall.

Dimensions: 2.78 inches (7 cm) x 1.77 inches (4.5 cm)

Provenance:   Provenance Bearing old museum number. Collection of  Robert de Rustafjaell F.R.G.S. (Member of the Royal Numismatical Society,  the Zoological Society, the Royal Society of Arts, the Hellenic Society of the British School of Rome, and Bey of the Imperial Ottoman Empire), p urchased at one of the Rustafjaell sales held by Sotheby's in 1906, 1913 and 1915 by Gustave Maurice Heckscher who then donated to the museum founded by his father; de-accessioned by Heckscher Museum of Art, Long Island, New York, in 2012.  Robert de Rustafjaell (1876-1943), aka Robert Fawcus-Smith, was a British collector and author who worked in Egypt as a geologist and mining engineer. After World War I, de Rustafjaell moved to the United States, where he lived under the name Col. Prince Roman Orbeliani.   

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