The Tutankhamun Exhibit
Wooden Brush Holder
Egyptian scribes wrote with brushes, not pens. The brushes were made of short, slender stems of rushes, the tips of which were cut at a slant, like a chisel, and then chewed by the scribe to separate the individual fibers. In Tutankhamun's time the brushes were generally kept in a slot in a palette made of a strip of wood or ivory with two cavities at one end for solidified red and black ink. Before the invention of such composite palettes, scribes kept their brushes in tubular cases, usually hollow reeds. In this brush holder, made of wood overlaid with gold foil and inlaid with semiprecious stones and glass, the simple reed has developed into a model of a palm-tree column.