Magic knife (peseshkef) inscribed for King Khufu
The peseshkef was a disntictive type of knife that was split at one end and is sometimes called a “fishtail” knife today.
This fine-grained flint wand is inscribed with the name of Khufu. Ritual wands were used in the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony to allow the deceased to eat and drink once more; this particular object would have been used on the statues of Menkaure in his valley temple at Giza.
The knives played a crucial role in funeral ritual, although their exact function in the Old Kingdom is uncertain. In later times, they were used in the “Opening of the Mouth” ceremony, which allowed the deceased to eat, drink, breathe and speak in the afterlife.
During the Old Kingdom, the knives came as part of a set, along with two model jars, one dark and one light, and two dark and two light model cups.
Old Kingdom, 4th Dynasty, reign of Khufu, ca. 2551–2528 BC. 18.3 x 2.8 x 0.4 cm (7 3/16 x 1 1/8 x 3/16 in.). From Menkaura Valley Temple. 1908, excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; 1911, assigned to the MFA by the Egyptian government. Now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 11.765