Toilet box of Merit

Toilet box of Merit

New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII, reign of Amenhotep II-III (1428-1351 BC)

Toilet box of Merit

 

Wood (sycamore) with alabaster, glass and faience vessels
New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII, reign of Amenhotep II-III (1428-1351 BC)
Provenance: Deir el-Medina, from the tomb of Kha, Schiaparelli excavations, 1906
Inv. Nrs. S. 8479, 8480, 8481, 8483, 8484, 8486, 8487, 8489, 8490
Kha and Merit’s tomb was furnished with all the objects they used in this life, necessary in the Afterlife. Ointments and kohl were regarded as a necessary part of hygiene and these precious materials were held in a variety of lidded alabaster, glass, and faience vessels. Egyptians protected themselves from the flies and from sunlight by wearing dark kohl under the eyes (depicted as a long cosmetic stripe on sculptures). The typical kohl vessel was shaped like a palm tree (other trees were scarce). Glass was a relatively new material and was therefore counted as precious. At this early date glass vessels were not yet blown, but were made by winding the hot glass over a core of clay and dung, and then rolling it over a flat surface. Other glass colours were ‘trailed’ over the surface and then dragging with a metal pin into zig-zag decoration. All these vessels of differing shapes (possibly the shape was indicative of the contents) were carefully placed in this double-level wood coffer that was equipped with five compartments on the bottom. The exterior of the box is decorated with a painted checkerboard pattern and with a lotus bud and blossom border; the lotus symbolised rebirth because the blossom closes at night and sinks, but re-blossoms at dawn. The inscription, possibly added just before burial, states that the box is a funerary offering for Merit’s spirit.