Copper and wood mirror, Dyn. 8

Copper and wood mirror, Dyn. 8
Period:Egypt, 1st Intermediate Period, Dynasty 07 & 08, Dynasty 7 & 8
Dating:2181 BC–2161 BC
Origin:Egypt, Lower Egypt, Memphis
Physical:29.5cm. (11.5 in.) - 243 g. (8.6 oz.)

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Links to others of type Mirror

Bronze mirror, double Horus, Dyn. 12
Bronze Mirror, Rome, 50 BC-50 AD
Engraved bronze mirror, Persia, 1100 BC
Engraved mirror, Etruria, 300 BC
Engraved mirror, Etruria, 380 BC
Engraved mirror, Etruria, 400-300 BC
Hammered bronze mirror, Persia, c.1000 BC
Mirror, Amlash, Persia, 1100-900 BC
Mirror with long handle, Etruria, 400 BC
  This large hand mirror combines, in a very Egyptian manner, practical use and symbolic representation. The thin (1 mm) disk of hammered copper formerly polished to a high sheen (perhaps even gilded for greater reflectivity) bears obvious solar connotations. The cedar wood handle was shaped as an ideogram, epithet of the solar Horus, which sometimes means “Abydus”(Gardiner 1957). Alternately, it could be the hieroglyph used in the Old Kingdom representing the sunshade accompanying the king (Gardiner 1957).

In their monograph on mirrors, Anlen and Padiou (1989) discuss the manufacturing processes of that period as follows: “Bronze was sometimes used as thin sheet metal, hammered then thoroughly sanded. For copper and bronze, archaic models were thin, around 1.5-2.5 mm. Starting with Dynasty 12, the thickness started to increase (3 to 8 mm on the average). This increase was due in part to the new technique of poured mirror disks, and to the fact that the disk itself, as an object of cult, needed to be more substantial.”

In remarkable condition despite its four thousand years of age, this rudimentary looking mirror is a reflection of its epoch--the First Intermediary Period. Following the collapse of Dynasty 6 after the death of Queen Nitiqret (around 2181 BC) and ending the golden age of the Old Kingdom, the First Intermediary Period was a time of unrest and political uncertainty caused or aggravated by climatic factors.

Bibliography (for this item)

Anlen, Léon, and Roger Padiou
1989 Les miroirs de bronze anciens. Guy Tredaniel, Paris, France.

Gardiner, Alan
1957 Egyptian Grammar. 3rd edition. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom.

Khalil, Hassan M.
1976 Preliminary Studies on the Sanusret Collection. Manuscript, Musée l’Egypte et le Monde Antique, Monaco-Ville, Monaco.

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