Rectangular drawing and writing boards were important educational tools in ancient Egypt. Made from wood and covered with a thin layer of plaster, they were used by those wealthy enough to receive a formal education. The board’s surface was coated with gesso and could be cleaned and reused, much like slate-writing tablets of more recent times.
This particular board was used for drawing. Half covered in a squared red grid, it features a royal figure above which two cartouches contain the throne name MenkheperkareIt. This was the name used by Thutmosis III (1481-1425 BC) the sixth pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty.
It has been suggested that the illustration was perhaps a preliminary drawing that was later to be transferred to a tomb or temple wall. As you can see, even in ancient Egyptians days drawing hands proved tricky!
You can see this and many other ancient Egyptian artefacts in the British Museum’s Touring Exhibition ‘Egyptian hieroglyphs: unlock the mystery’. It is open from now until 12 October and admission is free.