Name of Object:

Fragment of an ivory dagger


Amman, Jordan

Holding Museum:

Jordan Archaeological Museum


Hegira 2nd century / AD 8th century

Type of object:

Dagger, ivory, arms, armours

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Cut and incised ivory.


Length 28 cm, width 7 cm

Period / Dynasty:





A triangle-shaped ivory dagger that is broken with some pieces missing. Finely decorated with flora, fauna and architecture, it has incised decoration on both faces. On one side there is a central palm tree together with a trace of the columns that form an arch either side of it and a lamp hanging in the middle, unfortunately the upper part of the arch is missing. The other side depicts a she-camel with her young. Similar architectural motifs to those used on this ivory dagger appear on the steatite vessels found at the same site.

Backgammon dice and other ivory objects were found together with this piece in the same area of excavation. The function of such an object is not entirely clear but it was probably a decorative element used in the palace.

View Short Description

How date and origin were established:

The object was dated by its stratigraphic context and association with other Umayyad vessels.

How Object was obtained:

The object was obtained in 1986 during an archaeological excavation that took place at al-Fudayn in Mafraq which lies about 70 km north-east of Amman.

How provenance was established:

Where this object was produced is unknown but it was found during archaeological excavation work at al-Fudayn, a site located in Mafraq.

Selected bibliography:

La voie royale: 9000 ans d'art au royaume de Jordanie, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 1986, p.369, fig. 355.

Zabern, P., Der Königs Weg: 9000 Jahre Kunst und Kultur in Jordanien und Palästina, exhibition catalogue, Mainz, 1987, p.350.

Citation of this web page:

Aida Naghawy "Fragment of an ivory dagger" in Discover Islamic Art , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019.;ISL;jo;Mus01;13;en&id=arms_and_armoury

Prepared by: Aida NaghawyAida Naghawy

Aida Naghawy is an archaeologist and the Director of Jordan Archaeological Museum. She studied archaeology at the University of Jordan where she gained her MA. She was affiliated to the Jordanian Department of Antiquities from 1974 as a curator of Jordan Archaeological Museum. In 1981 she became inspector of Jerash antiquities and co-ordinator of the Jerash International Rehabilitation project. She was also head of the archaeological awareness section at the Department of Antiquities. Aida is the author of numerous publications on Islamic coins. She has carried out excavation work in Jerash and is the founder of Jerash Archaeological Museum and the Islamic Museum of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.

Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: JO 17