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HOME : Egyptian Antiquities : Archive : Predynastic Egyptian Mottled Stone Vase
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Predynastic Egyptian Mottled Stone Vase - PF.0076
Origin: Sinai, Egypt
Circa: 4000 BC to 3000 BC
Dimensions: 2.25" (5.7cm) high x 2.25" (5.7cm) wide
Catalogue: V1
Collection: Egyptian
Style: Predynastic
Medium: Stone

Additional Information: sold

Location: Great Britain
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The vessel is characterized by a body which resembles a container made from the skin of an animal. Such vessels are commonly depicted in Egyptian tomb paintings of the later Ramesside Period where they appear to be made of the skins of goats. The lip is off-set from the body which is provided with two handles. The walls of the vessel are characteristically thin, contributing to its delicate translucency which attests to the skill of the ancient Egyptian craftsmen in creating such wafer- thin, stone objects.

The shape of the vessel relates it to other imitation animal-skin sack-like vessels, one example of which is in London, The British Museum. This example is dated to the late Predynastic to early Archaic Period roughly between 3200-2800 BC. As such it conforms to the large number of experimental shapes which characterize the repertoire of stone vases at the dawn of Egypt’s history.

It is interesting to note that the ancient Egyptians were crafting stone vessels long before they were creating statues in stone. This observation is reinforced by the fact that the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic word for “stone sculptor” employs the tool used by these early craftsmen for the fashioning of stone vessels as its ideogram.

Such vessels are usually found in tombs, but their purpose is to assure the permanence of the ka, or spirit, of the deceased eternally in the Hereafter because such permanence is linked to stone, one of the most enduring of materials used by the ancient Egyptians. It is for this reason that pyramid chambers of pharaohs of the period contain so many examples of stone vessels. The excavations of the Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser at Saqqara yielded almost 40,000 stone objects, most of which were vessels.

In addition to insuring permanence, such vessels held precious unguents and ointments for which the ancient Egyptians were famous. Many of these cosmetics resonate with contemporary concerns addressed by aromatherapy. As such vessels of this type continually commemorate the ancient Egyptian achievements in all fields of human endeavor.

Norman de Garis Davies, Two Ramesside Tombs at Thebes (New York 1927), pl. XXX, for the second register of the north side of the east wall of the Theban Tomb of Ipy (217) which depicts an agricultural scene, one vignette of which depicts a young girl loading fish into such a vessel; pl. XXXIV illustrates a detail of the same scene depicting several similarly-shaped skins in scenes of shepherds.

- (PF.0076)


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