Egyptian Greywacke Cosmetic Fish Spoon Fragment


An ancient Egyptian greywacke cosmetic spoon fragment, consisting of a rounded body which tapers to a curved point to create a fish shape. Incisions mark out a circular eye and a small upturned mouth, symmetrical with the underside. The spoon features crescent scales and detailing of a fin and gills, also made through incised markings. At the nose there is a small perforation, likely used for the attachment of a hinged cover for the spoon bowl. To the reverse, the flat surface is recessed to create the spoon bowl, whilst retaining the fish’s facial features. Graywacke is a variety of sandstone, characterised by it’s hardness and dull colouring.

The spoon fragment features a custom-made stand.

Date: Circa 1569-1081 BC
Period: New Kingdom Period
Provenance: Acquired in the 1980s. From a French private collection.
Condition: Good condition. Some minor scratches to the surface from wear. Fragment.


Cosmetic spoons in ancient Egypt were used for storing or mixing perfumes and mineral for make-up. They ranged from simple, to intricately decorated, and often featured beautifully carved handles. Motifs on the spoons ranged from zoomorphic depictions, to human figures, deities, flora and religious iconography.

Fish were considered sacred animals to a number of goddesses within the Egyptian pantheon. The most popular was the goddess Hatmehit, who was often represented as a fish or as a woman wearing a fish headdress. She was associated mostly with a city known as Ddejet. Hatmehit name had a double meaning and broken down could be translated as ‘foremost fish’ or ‘foremost Inundation’ and thus was associated with the flooding of the nile. From the Third Intermediate Period, Hatmehit was fused with a number of other goddesses, including Isis and Hathor. Her insignia, which was once a fish headdress or standard, was gradually replaced with those of Isis and Hathor; a stepped headdress or cows horns respectively.

Weight 51.4 g
Dimensions L 6.1 x W 5.3 cm



Reference: For similar: The British Museum, London, item EA5952

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