Cylinder sheath of Aspelta

Napatan Period, reign of Aspelta
593–568 B.C.

Object Place: Sudan


Legacy dimension: Total H. .121 m. Diameter at bottom .031 m.

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Function unknown

Silver gilt cylinder sheath, originally mounted on silver, now mounted on modern silver cylinders; in two parts: top part with repoussé and engraved decorations, lower part with engraved decorations including cartouches of Aspelta; fragmentary and incomplete. Bottom with engraved rosette damaged. See also 21.11744.

[Alternate Text for 20.275, 21.340, 11735, 11737, 11746:]
Gold, electrum, and gilded silver objects called cylinder sheaths were found in a number of the tombs of the kings and queens of Kush at Nuri in the Sudan, but have not been recorded elsewhere. Each consists of two cylinders, the longer one closed at the base and the shorter having an internal sleeve that fits inside the longer piece. The cylinders are decorated with friezes of uraei and ram’s heads, divine figures, and royal names. Their purpose is unknown; it has been suggested that they held rolled documents, but the open end makes this unlikely.


From Nuri, Pyramid 8 (Tomb of Aspelta),Chamber A. 1916: excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA by the government of Sudan; 1921: received by the MFA.

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition