Ancient Egypt, Early Dynastic to Old Kingdom, 1st to 6th Dynasty, ca. 3100 to 2181 BCE. An elegant and very early example of impressive Egyptian lapidary skill, a fine banded alabaster cup of a cylindrical form with a flared foot and rim. The pale-yellow alabaster is ringed with beautiful bands of caramel, golden-brown, grey, and citrine hues which illuminate when placed next to a bright light. Cups like this were used more as ceremonial vessels or offerings with votive or funerary contexts in ancient Egypt. Size: 2.125" W x 4.25" H (5.4 cm x 10.8 cm).
Alabaster, which is a form of gypsum or calcite, soft to carve and smooth, was quarried along the length of the Nile, from Giza to just south of Luxor, and the Egyptians made its carved forms famous throughout the ancient world. Centuries later, the Greeks made vessels like this out of pottery and painted them white in imitation of the beautiful stone. On this example, as you examine the interior, you can see the grooves left behind from carving and smoothing it into its current form.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Dr. Sid Port collection, California, USA, 1980s
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