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Was Ivory Molded Or Formed Into Large Sheets In Antiquity?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with a question, whether there were techniques used in antiquity to soften ivory in order to mold it into curved shapes and/or to create larger sheets than could be cut directly from a tusk. The most convincing argument is from the existing evidence. The ivory furniture from Kenchreai was covered, even on relatively large, curved areas, by strips of veneer carefully butted and glued down, and not by large sheets.Further, while it has been argued that methods may have been used in antiquity to produce large panels of ivory, efforts to replicate the procedures described in medieval literature have not succeeded in producing wide, long sheets that do not crack over time. Even later in antiquity, there appears to be no material evidence in chryselephantine sculpture for the use of ivory sheets enlarged by some technique of softening and spiral cutting.

Keywords: chryselephantine sculpture; ivory; Sheets; tusk; veneer



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