Pestle, Spool, or Weight, 3rd millennium BCE
Early Cycladic
Greece, Probably Cyclades
1 5/8 × 1 × 1 1/8 in. (4.1 × 2.5 × 2.9 cm)
3-D Object/Sculpture
Gift of Jacques Chalmain
CA 7807

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This small cylindrical object with flaring ends belongs to a somewhat mysterious class of Early Cycladic items produced sometime during the 3rd millennium BCE. Identified by scholars potentially as pestles, polishers, spools, or weights, the exact function of these objects remains unclear. Many in other collections are identified as pestles with the understanding that they would be used with a palette (such as CA 7808 in the Menil Collection) to grind the pigments found on some Cycladic figures. This example, however, has no evidence of pigments on the weathered surface. Regardless of whether it is a pestle, spool, or weight, this object and others like it were most likely a tool of some variety given their relative abundance in the archaeological record. Both stone and shell varieties are known. In archaeological contexts, sometimes multiple examples were found dispersed around a site or included amongst grave goods in a tomb.