Archae Solenhofen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Last modified April 10, 2001)
Obsidian is a natural glass of volcanic origin, that fractures conchoidally upon impact and has a hardness of about 6 on Mohs' scale. The colour of obsidian is generally black or green, but can also be clear, grey, black, various degrees of reddish browns to reddish blacks, as well as exhibiting banding and mottling. Obsidian is not native to Egypt, but occurs naturally in Abyssinia, Armenia, and on various islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Lucas and Harris (1962) after examination of specimens at the Cairo Museum, private collections, and artifacts from the locations of possible sources, have suggested that some and probably most are of the Abyssinia variety. It has also been suggested that Armenia is a source for some of the specimens as well (Lucas and Harris,1962).
In ancient Egypt obsidian was used in small amounts starting in Predynastic times. At first it was used as flakes in various implements, and as weapons, and later as amulets, beads, scarabs, eyes and pupils of eyes in statues and statuettes, and small vases. Other uses include busts, masks, and statues.
Lucas, A. & Harris, J.R. (1962) Ancient Egyptian materials
and industries. E. Arnold, London, 523 p.
Links to examples of obsidian usage
d) Misc objects
Old Kingdom period schist statuette of Pepi I in kneeling position from the 6th Dynasty (height: 15.2 cm, width: 4.6 cm, depth: 9 cm; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York). Note: inlaid eyes of alabaster and obsidian mounted in copper cells.