|Petrie Museum of
University College London
|Deir el-Medina ostraka in the Petrie Museum
Ostrakon, the Greek term for potsherd, is used by Egyptologists to refer to sherds of pottery or
smooth limestone flakes, which were used for less formal purposes than papyri. They were a cheap and
readily available material on which it was possible to write and/or draw. The text and drawings often
consist of letters, bills, personal notes, inventories, sketches and scribal exercises, but also of
literary texts, like love poems and wisdom texts.
The ostraka in the Petrie Museum come from the Flinders Petrie collection, which he obtained mainly in
Thebes, though the exact place and dates of acquisition still remain to be established. The contents
indicate, that the majority of Petrie ostraka did originate in the Theban area - either in Deir
el-Medina itself or in places where the Deir el-Medina workforce were active, e.g. The Valley of the
Kings. A big proportion of Petrie ostraka are small pieces of limestone, while the smaller proportion are
|Ancient Egyptian stelae
Stele is a slab of stone or, less often, wood, which on at least one side bears inscriptions,
reliefs or paintings, usually of a funerary, votive or commemorative nature. Often these
categories overlap. The depictions and inscriptions form independent units, but the
monuments need to be understood in its original architectural setting. In ancient Egypt
stelae were most often placed in the wall of a chapel. There are also free standing
examples, sometimes with inscribed separate plinth.
Ancient Egyptian offering tables
Offering tables were usually placed in an accessible location within the private tomb such
as the chapel, so that offerings could be brought to it by the funerary priests or
relatives of the deceased.