Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Writing board

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 12
ca. 1981–1802 B.C.
From Egypt; Said to be from Upper Egypt, Thebes or Northern Upper Egypt, Akhmim (Khemmis, Panopolis)
Wood, gesso, paint
L. 43 cm (16 15/16 in); w. 19 cm (7 1/2 in)
Credit Line:
Gift of Edward S. Harkness, 1928
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 109
Gessoed boards were used for writing notes or school exercises. Like the slate writing tablets of yesteryear, they could be used repeatedly, with old texts being whitewashed to provide a “clean slate” for another. This board still bears traces of earlier writing (at left). The main text is a wordy model letter that the student copied—and surely also was expected to memorize. His many spelling mistakes have been corrected in red ink by the teacher.
Purchased in Cairo from Nicolas Tano, 1928.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Part I: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 294, 295, fig. 194.

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