Ancient Egypt, Pre-Dynastic Period, late Naqada II to early Naqada III, ca. 3200 BCE. A stunning ovoid jar with an elegant presentation evocative of ancient Egypt. The vessel is hand-carved from sumptuous breccia marble with deep red-brown veining coursing throughout the pale yellow stone. A petite circular base supports the piriform body which tapers gently at the shoulders towards a flat, lipped mouth which likely held a small lid. Two pierced lug handles are situated equidistantly around the upper body and allow the vessel to be transported when not in use. The interior cavity is drilled out and drops roughly three-quarters of the way down, leaving enough material to weigh down the base. With its highly-polished surface and exquisite form, this is a sublime example of early Egyptian craftsmanship! Size: 3" W x 3.375" H (7.6 cm x 8.6 cm).
In the early Pre-Dynastic period, artisans hollowed out hard stone vessels using hand-held stone borders and abrasive desert sand. Then, during the Naqada II period (ca. 3600 to 3200 BCE), the invention of copper tubes used to drill very hard stone (in conjunction with sand as an abrasive), allowed people to drill finer forms - like the interior of this vessel. In the Naqada III period, people developed stone borers that allowed them to expand beyond a drilled channel, so the shape of this vessel suggests that its makers did not yet have access to that technology.
A slightly-larger but stylistically-similar example hammered for GBP 8,750 ($11,513.69) at Christie's, London Antiquities Auction (sale 10372, April 15, 2015, lot 16): https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/ancient-art-antiquities/an-egyptian-breccia-jar-predynastic-period-naqada-5882113-details.aspx?from=salesummery&intobjectid=5882113&sid=dcffbe68-d8b0-4124-a6c9-c8d772913107
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection, acquired from Royal Athena Gallery, New York, New York, USA; ex-Monnier collection, Paris, France; ex-private J. M. E. collection, New York, USA, acquired at the Drouot, Paris, France, in February, 1996
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