Clay "paddle doll" figurine from Abydos South drawn freehand by using pencil on matte acetate

Jun 15, 2020

At the dawn of archaeological object documentation the limited technological background gave birth to freehand artistic representations. Ideally, artists were experts in the field of Egyptology with exceptional technical skills, making huge efforts to indicate the lifelike image of their material on paper. Their renderings concentrated on the faithful copying of external features and texture. Naturally, the artistic conventions of any given era had a huge influence on their products. ⠀ ⠀

Fast forward to today and still, in most archaeological publications (even with the advent of computer reconstruction and multi-dimensional adaptation of objects), single-view photographs and detailed drawings represent the majority of archaeological material. Naturally, the immense technical takeover, led by digital photography, removed most of the obstacles from recording an artifact in its “purest” most objective form.⠀ ⠀

By contrast, a good drawing selectively portrays the details that the observer needs to recognize and edits out irrelevant details, such as demonstrated on this clay "paddle doll" figurine drawn at the Abydos Settlement site in 2004. The drawing represents the dark grey, almost black surface in a much lighter tone, with the maze of rounded impressions/punctures (most probably created for inserts of real hair) being the focus of visual interpretation. ⠀ ⠀

There are four views included with the pencil drawing (drawn freehand on matte acetate), due to the irregularly dotted patterns that are uniquely represented on all sides. A cross cut, incised on top, is shown separately above the head.⠀

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