Biblical Archaeology Review 40:1, January/February 2014

Strata: What Is It?

A. Harness finial

B. Standard holder

C. Pommel of a royal dagger

D. Candleholder

E. Palace doorknob

Answer: (A) Harness finial

This partial, 3-inch-wide ivory finial was a small but important part of an Egyptian royal chariot. The finial was affixed atop a fork-shaped harness that was placed over the neck of the horse and lashed to the chariot’s yoke. A leather thong tied around the spool-shaped finial was connected to slender rods that ran along the outside of the horse’s neck to the bridle’s bit, thereby giving the chariot driver greater control of the horse’s lateral movements. Similar finials—still attached to their neck-forks—were discovered with chariots from the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

The finial’s fragmentary hieroglyphic royal inscription gives the name Amenhotep, presumably referring to either Amenhotep II (c. 1427–1400 B.C.E.) or his grandson, Amenhotep III (c. 1390–1352 B.C.E.), both pharaohs of the powerful 18th Dynasty that established imperial control over much of Canaan. The inscription continues with a reference to “his fear in the lands,” suggesting the finial and its neck-fork could have been part of a chariot used on a military campaign.1

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