About this object

Sample of black paint from a Fifth Dynasty mastaba at Meidum belonging to Prince Nefermaat, son of King Sneferu. Described by Flaxman Spurrell as "lamp black" in reference to his 1895 experiments with colours from ancient Egypt. Previously sealed within two circular concave pieces of glass (watch glass) with a paper label annotated MEDUM IV Lamp black NEFERMAT”. Since 1976 displayed within a sealed acrylic cube.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Old Kingdom
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt: Meidum
  • Date made
    2494 BC - 2345 BC
  • Materials
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, Ancient Egypt Gallery
  • Acquisition
    Purchased from the collections of Norwich Castle Museum
  • Collector
    William Matthew Flinders Petrie
  • Place collected
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt: Meidum
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    16 mm x 19 mm x 19 mm
  • Related people
    Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery ( Previous owner); William Matthew Flinders Petrie ( Collector, previous owner); Flaxman Charles John Spurrell ( Previous owner)

Explore related


  • Flaxman Spurrell's Experimenting with Painting Materials in Carolyn Graves-Brown (editor) 'Egyptology in the Present: Experiential and Experimental Methods in Archaeology'

    Cooke, Ashley

    Author: Cooke, Ashley
    Publisher: The Classical Press of Wales
    Date: 2015
    Description: Ashley Cooke, ‘Flaxman Spurrell’s Experimenting with Painting Materials' in Carolyn Graves-Brown (editor) 'Egyptology in the Present: Experiential and Experimental Methods in Archaeology' (The Classical Press of Wales, 2015) pp. 1-11.

  • Medum

    Petrie, William Matthew Flinders

    Author: Petrie, William Matthew Flinders
    Publisher: David Nutt
    Date: 1892
    Description: Available onlione at http://www.archive.org/stream/cu31924028670465#page/n6/mode/thumb

  • Notes on Egyptian Colours in 'The Archaeological Journal' 52

    Spurrell, Flaxman Charles John

    Author: Spurrell, Flaxman Charles John
    Publisher: Royal Archaeological Institute
    Date: 1895
    Description: In 1895 Spurrell published ‘Notes on Egyptian Colours’ which was a culmination of several papers he had contributed to the Royal Archaeological Institute in the early 1890’s, based principally on material from Flinders Petrie’s excavations (1895, 222-39). At this point Petrie had supplied Spurrell with a full range of colour samples from the Fourth Dynasty to the Roman Period. These 50 colours are typically held between two watch glasses and are from fairly securely dated provenances: Fourth Dynasty (Meidum and Dahshur), Twelfth Dynasty (Lahun), Eighteenth Dynasty (Amarna), New Kingdom (Gurob) and Roman Period (Hawara). Spurrell validates his study by stating that ‘Mr. Petrie’s specimens have the special value of being correctly dated’ and disputes some earlier studies that used museum samples with no specific contextual data. Following typical Victorian ideas of progress and cultural evolution Spurrell’s study chiefly aims to ‘mark chronological changes’ from the Fourth to Eighteenth Dynasties (1895, 222).


  • Petrie's Excavations at Meidum, 1890-91

    Start date: 1890
    End date: 1890
    Description: Excavations directed by Flinders Petrie at Meidum. At this time Petrie's fieldwork was largely being sponsored by two men: Jesse Haworth (1835-1921) and Henry Martin Kennard (1833-1911). Petrie gave some of his finds to his close friend, Flaxman Spurrell (1842-1915), whose collection was given to Norwich Castle Museum which was then purchased by Liverpool Museum in 1956. Spurrell's collection includes pigments from Meidum.


Previous owners

Object view = Humanities
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