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W347 Middle Kingdom flint pick from Armant 

Roughly worked flint (chert) pick from Armant, 31cm long. The item is labelled AR 30/201B and is thus from Armant. The excavators, Myers and Fairman (1931, 224), state that picks were found in cemetery 200, tombs 201 and 202 and pottery and beads dates these graves to 11th-12th Dynasty (2055–1795). The illustration of 4 picks of the same type from this excavation (Myers and Fairman 1931, pl 59.3) may include the very pick shown here. 

Picks such as this date from the Predynastic Period (5500–3100 BC) until at least the New Kingdom (1550–1069 BC). As early as 1882 Pitt Rivers noticed ‘a kind of edged tool, sharp at the bottom and reduced to a tang at the top’ found near the 18th Dynasty (1550–1295 BC) tomb of Merikare at Assiut (Pitt Rivers 1882, 383, fig. 1). The illustration appears to show a pick.  The precise dating is unknown, they are described only as ‘pharaonique’ though the author suggests they may possibly date to the New Kingdom (1550–1069 BC). At Giza similar, though more rhomboidal forms were dated from the Predynastic period to the 5th Dynasty (2494–2345 BC; Kromer 1978, 50, pl. 16.1–3). The author classifies these as axes though their pointed working edge may suggest that they were picks.  Midant-Reynes (1998, pl. 28) illustrates one pick found at Old Kingdom-1st Intermediate Period (2686–2055 BC)) Ayn-Asīl made from a slightly modified natural boulder. The form is long and thin.  Examples clearly from the Theban rock cut tombs of the New Kingdom are known (Seton-Karr 1905, pl.5.12; Mackay 1921).

It seems likley that such picks were used to dig out the grave rather than being a deliberately deposited grave artefact.  


Kromer, K. 1978, Siedlungsfunde aus dem Frühen Alten Reich in Giseh: Österreichische Ausgrabungen 1971-1975. Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Mackay, E. 1921, ‘The Cutting and Preparation of Tomb-chapels in the Theban Necropolis’. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 7, 154-168.

Midant-Reynes, B. 1998, Le Silex de ‘Ayn-Asil Oasis de Dakhla-Balat. Documents de Fouilles de l’IFAO 34. Cairo: Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale du Caire.

Myers, O.H. and Fairman, H.W. 1931, ‘Excavations at Armant 1929-1931’. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 17, 223-232.

Pitt Rivers, M.-G. 1882, ‘On the Discovery of Chert Implements in Stratified Gravel in the Nile Valley Near Thebes’. The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 11, 382–400.

Seton-Karr, M. H. W. 1905, ‘How the Tomb Galleries at Thebes Were Cut and the Limestone Quarried at the Prehistoric Flint Mines of the E. Desert’. Annales du Service des Antiquites d’Egypte, 6, 1-12.

Other flint artefacts

Other items from Armant

Other Middle Kingdom items