, ebur; elephantus
Georg. iii. 26
Aen. iii. 464 Aen., vi. 896
ivory was known to the ancients, through Phœnician trade, long before the elephant.
Accordingly, early writers—Homer, Hesiod, Pindar—speak of the material
only. Herodotus, indeed, was aware of its origin (iv. 191; Plin.
H. N. viii. 7
), but the Greeks generally only became acquainted with
the animal from the Macedonian expeditions into Asia, the Romans from the arrival of Pyrrhus
in Italy. Both words—ἐλέφας
—possibly contain the
Ivory Spoon. (Schliemann.)
, “ivory, elephant”
(Schrader, Linguist. histor. Forsch. zur Handelsgesch.
The use of ivory in the manufacture of small objects of use or ornament, and for purposes of
decoration, is earliest in Egypt and Assyria. There have been found, for instance, castanets,
stick-handles, hilts and hefts, combs, flutes, sceptres, caskets, statuettes, made of the
tusk, and many different articles of furniture inlaid with it. In Homer, besides its
employment when carved in mass, it is referred to in connection with walls, doors, harness,
etc., and was then probably attached in plates by nails to a metal or wooden ground. In later
times true inlaying was resorted to, and almost every kind of furniture, as beds, sofas,
thrones, carriages even, enriched with the precious material.
Among objects not enumerated above may be mentioned masks and writing-tablets. The latter
, libri elephantini
), with two,
three, or more
Ivory Handle. (Schliemann.)
leaves (diptycha, triptycha, pentaptycha
, etc.), were either
entirely, or had their covers only, of ivory. Those extant are chiefly of the later Roman age.
They are of two classes, consularia
, distinguished by the subjects of the carvings on their covers, the
former being figures of consuls at the pompa circensis, missiones
while the latter are of a Biblical nature (Müller, Arch. d. Kunst
312, n. 3). They were presented to officers and dignitaries to commemorate their appointment.
For further information see H. Blümner, Téchnol. u. Terminol. d.
, etc., ii. 361-375, where there is a full bibliography; and cf. the article