Ancient Egypt, Pre-Dynastic Period, Naqada II, ca. 3400 to 3200 BCE. A stunning jar of a squat size, hand-carved from mottled dark orange-brown granite with deep burgundy and black inclusions. The vessel sits atop a lightly-rounded but stable base, has a corseted neck which traces up to a flat everted rim, and integral lug handles with horizontally-drilled suspension holes on either side of the apple-shaped body. The interior of the body was drilled out using a series of progressively larger drill bits, and traces of the original drill marks are still visible within. Size: 3.9" W x 3.1" H (9.9 cm x 7.9 cm).
In addition to its striking presentation, this jar represents a technological leap forward for the ancient Egyptians. In the early Pre-Dynastic, artisans hollowed out hard stone vessels using hand-held stone borers and abrasive desert sand. Then, during the Naqada II period (ca. 3600 to 3200 BCE), the invention of copper tubes enabled artisans to drill very hard stones (in conjunction with sand as an abrasive) and create more intricate forms or integral details like the lugged handles on this example. However, copper drills only allowed artisans to drill cylindrical items, and so the hollowing out of bulbous vessels like this one still required use of an elongated stone borer in the form of a figure-of-eight.
For a stylistically-similar example, please see The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 66.99.200: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/564821
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Dr. Sid Port collection, California, USA, acquired in the 1980s
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Small area of repair to rim, with small chips and light adhesive residue along break lines. Abrasions to body, base, rim, and handles, with light encrustations within interior. Nicely polished surface, and light earthen deposits throughout.