Egypt, Late Dynastic Period, 26th to 31st Dynasty, ca. 664 to 332 BCE. A sizable jar, hand-carved from pale-yellow alabaster with creamy-white spotted and banded inclusions. The piriform body rests upon a planar base, with a lightly-rolled shoulder tracing upwards to a thin rim and a pair of small lug handles. The bottom rim of a discoid lid has a drilled central hole and sits snugly atop the vessel. The design of the lid suggests a second, unperforated lid with a bottom plug would have covered the hole in the middle lid at one time. This type of vessel would have likely held oils and perhaps animal fats to be used as moisturizers or other salves to protect against the harsh Egyptian sun. Size: 5.125" W x 4.425" H (13 cm x 11.2 cm).
Alabaster, which is a form of gypsum or calcite, was quarried along the length of the Nile River, from Giza to just south of Luxor, and the Egyptians made its carved forms famous throughout the ancient world. A thousand years later, while less common than black-figure or red-figure techniques, the Greeks made vessels like this out of pottery and painted them with white clay paint to imitate this beautiful stone.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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