Throw Sticks, probably 1927–28 season
Harry Burton (English, 1879–1940)
The Egyptian Expedition of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gelatin silver print; 5 1/2 x 8 in. (14 x 20 cm)
These polished forms, suggestive of plant or aquatic specimens, are in fact four of the thirty-four hunter's throw sticks found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Like Marcel Duchamp's Three Standard Stoppages (1913), in which curved lines formed by the fall of a meter-long thread were adopted as new units of measurement, these carefully arrayed forms constitute a type of "automatic drawing" and appear to sit directly on the surface of the paper. The sticks are ordered not by size or some other quality inherent in the objects themselves but rather by find number—and thus by chance, also the determinative element in Duchamp's work.