Glazed steatite in Ancient Egypt

Document Type : Original Article


Assistant Professor, Department of Egyptology - faculty of archaeology - South Valley University Qena - Egypt


The aim of the study is to identify the steatite stone. It is known as “Al-Talq”. It was one of the stones -existed in ancient Egypt-, which is related to geology, as one of ancient Egypt’s sciences. Although in ancient times it was more closely related to mining, and it is known that ancient  Egypt was the base of science, including mining and stone. Ancient Egypt was well known as the base of the sciences like Mining and Stones.
The ancient Egyptians have used this stone since the pre-dynastic period. While the Glazing is associated with glass and glassmaking, they applied Glazing on the Steatite. So, the glazed steatite became the oldest and first glazed stone  used in ancient Egyptian civilization, since Elbadary civilization.
It was used in the manufacture of glazed beads, amulets, belts, bracelets, and pins, and was also extensively used in the manufacture of glazed scarabs, as well as different types of seals. It was associated with the kingship in ancient Egypt through the royal statues made from this stone, as well as royal seals, scarabs, and pins, and was also associated with ancient Egypt’s religious beliefs.
It was similar to the grain stone and schist stone, and was known as the soapstone because of its smooth texture, and was used in the manufacture of utensils, especially the kn jar that was associated to this stone in which oils, fats, and perfumes were placed. It was found in Egypt in several areas of the Eastern Desert, as well as southeast of Aswan, and it remained in use until the end of ancient Egyptian civilization.