Ancient Egypt, Pre-Dynastic Period, Naqada II, ca. 3650 to 3300 BCE. A gorgeous coil-formed Nile silt pottery vessel with a highly-burnished, russet-hued surface made with a thin iron-oxide slip. The vase has an ovoid body which rests gently upon a round yet stable foot, with a deep interior cavity, a lightly-tapering shoulder, and a rolled rim. The upper black-hued portion is comprised of thick carbon deposits formed by administering the top to thick clouds of smoke for extended periods of time in an oxygen-deprived environment. Black-topped vessels originally rose to popularity during the early Naqada I, a culture which inhabited ancient Egypt during its pre-dynastic period. The Naqada were first described by famed archaeologist William Flinders Petrie, however relatively little is known about them except that they were focused around the site of El-Amra in central Egypt, west of the Nile River. Size: 8.1" W x 11.2" H (20.6 cm x 28.4 cm).
Pre-Dynastic Egyptian black-top vessels were traditionally made from silt deposits taken from the Nile river due to their abundance in iron and silica. After the pot had dried but before it was fired, it would first be burnished and rubbed smooth with a small stone to create the pinstripe vertical striations still visible today. An iron-rich slip would then be applied just before firing; when placed in an oxygen-rich environment, the elevated temperatures would create the vessels' signature red-orange hue.
After the end of the Naqada III period around 3,000 BCE, the use of Nile silt in pottery creations fell out of favor with the Pre-Dynastic Egyptians. This is due to the increase in popularity of marl clay, a newly-discovered material for creating terracotta objects which was easier to shape and enabled firing at far greater temperatures than the highly-porous silt.
For a stylistically-similar example, please see The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 15.2.16: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/551844
This piece has been tested using thermoluminescence (TL) analysis and has been found to be ancient and of the period stated. A full report will accompany purchase.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection; ex-private Mississippi, USA collection; ex-Louis Di Lauro collection, acquired in 2002; ex-Peter Rose collection, (Phoenix, Arizona; New Mexico; and New York, New York, USA), acquired at auction in 1948
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Area of repair and restoration to upper body near shoulder, with stabilization to several fissures, with resurfacing and overpainting along break lines. Small nicks and abrasions to rim, body, and base, with fading to original pigmentation, small excisions along exterior, and light encrustations. Light earthen deposits throughout. Two TL drill holes: one inside rim, and one beneath base.