Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Ancient artefact found at boot sale

A man paid three pounds for an ancient Egyptian artefact hidden in a box of old tools at a car boot sale

A car boot sale fan who discovered an ancient Egyptian tool worth thousands of pounds and haggled down the price to £3 said he was stunned and delighted with his find.

Ambulance worker Martin Jackson found the 4,500-year wooden maul, used by craftsmen to carve temples, among a load of shabby, broken tools at his local sale on the quayside at Amble, Northumberland.

It was in shabby condition, with electrical tape roughly wrapped around the handle, and the seller was happy enough to half his original £6 price.

Mr Jackson, a 50-year-old emergency medical assistant, who studies ancient symbolism, said: "It was one of those days when all the men gather round the hardware stall you get at any car boot sale and rummage through boxes of stuff you would be ashamed to even throw in the bin, like broken screwdrivers and busted hammers."

He thought the tool looked very old and when he took it home, he removed the tape and saw a finely engraved silver band which explained that it was an Egyptian maul which had been found at the ancient burial ground Saqqara.

It had been brought to Ireland around 1905 by a highly-decorated British officer who was frequently mentioned in dispatches.

Mr Jackson's maul was sent to the Natural History Museum in London where it was compared to one already in their Egyptian collection, and it was confirmed that it was genuine, possibly 4,500 years old.

Mr Jackson said: "To hold something which is twice as old as Christianity, that built some of the most ancient temples in the world, feels very special.

"To feel the 'sweet spot' where the mason preferred to rest his thumb, thousands of years ago as he built vast monuments, is quite incredible.

"I was completely stunned and delighted by its rarity."

Mr Jackson has been told it by experts from the internet site Value My Stuff it is worth £2,000 to £4,000.

Their Egyptian expert said: "Wooden mallets were used in ancient Egypt in all types of activities, from stone and wood sculpting to boat and furniture building. A preserved wooden item like this from the Egyptian period is extremely rare and over the course of my 25-year career I've only ever seen three appear on the market."

Mr Jackson plans to sell the item to fund more trips to Egypt where he will continue his research into ancient symbols.

"It is serendipity that I found it and it has come along for a reason," he said.

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