Cylindrical ivory box

Early–Classic Kerma
2400–1550 B.C.

Findspot: Nubia (Sudan), Kerma, K2000-63x


Width x Depth x Length x Diameter: 5.6 x 0.3 x 3.6 x 7.5 cm (2 3/16 x 1/8 x 1 7/16 x 2 15/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Ivory and Faience

Not On View


The Ancient World



These are six fragments from a cylindrical box with incised and inlayed decoration. A similar motif is repeated approximately every 3.2 cm: two incised lines form a column that is flanked by two levels of pie-wedge pieces of blue faience inlay, bbelow which are flanking incised pairs of arcs. The design may be a stylized djed pillar (the hieroglyphic sign for “stability”) with the negative space indicated by the inlay. Some pieces of blue inlays are missing. Additional fragments of oval inlay pieces are apparently associated. Some fragments of ivory have holes bored through. It was once suggested that this object might be a broad bracelet.

See also similar object 20.1781, which was found with gaming set that included throwsticks (20.1522, originally 14-1-601) and game pieces (14-1-602). G. Reisner (the excavator) hypothesized that such a container may have been a box used to shake and cast throwsticks while playing.


From Kerma, tomb K2000-63. December 1913: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Sudan. (Accession Date: March 1, 1920)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition