An Egyptian Pre Dynastic Gneiss Vessel, ca. 3600 - 3300 BCE
An Egyptian Pre Dynastic Gneiss Vessel, ca. 3600 - 3300 BCE
An Egyptian Pre Dynastic Gneiss Vessel, ca. 3600 - 3300 BCE
An Egyptian Pre Dynastic Gneiss Vessel, ca. 3600 - 3300 BCE
An Egyptian Pre Dynastic Gneiss Vessel, ca. 3600 - 3300 BCE

An Egyptian Pre Dynastic Gneiss Vessel, ca. 3600 - 3300 BCE


superbly crafted white gneiss vessel, the aggregate stone comprising a variety of grey to black inclusions in a soft cream matrix. The elegant form is characteristic of early dynastic stone vases, the perforated twin horizontal lug handles placed on the shoulders, the rounded rim offset, on a flat base, the interior hollowed, although in this example, not to the vessel sides.  Vessels such as this example were highly prized in antiquity and were probably used to store valuable and exotic perfumed oils or ointments.   

Background:  Predynastic stone vessels were created from many different types of stone, including limestone, alabaster, marble, serpentine, basalt, breccia, porphyry, schist (greywacke), diorite, and flint.   A luxury product demonstrating the Egyptian's skill at handmade stone manufacturing, they were used for special occasions, display, and to hold expensive cosmetics in wealthy households.  The earliest examples that appeared in burials were small in size, often bulbous or cylindrical pots with rims and lug handles, such as this example. Around 3000 B.C. a full range of material was being skillfully worked often in large sizes, and by the Early Dynastic period enormous, beautiful stone pots were made as temple offerings, replacing ceramics as the most luxurious grave goods. Like their ceramic counterparts, stone vessels were intended to hold actual or symbolic contents (food, oils) necessary for the afterlife. 

For a related example see: Sir W.M.Flinders Petrie, The Funeral Furniture OF Egypt Stone and Metal Vases, Stone Vases 62-90: Dynasties I-III, fig, 64-65.

Ref: Winifred Needler, Predynastic and Archaic Egypt in The Brooklyn Museum, New York: The Brooklyn Museum (1984), pg. 238.

Dimensions: Width: 3 1/4 inches (8.3 cm), Height: 1 1/2 inches (4 cm)

Condition: Chip to the rim professionally rejoined, some minor wear/loss and accretions to the body that do not detract.  The vessel is intact and in excellent condition overall.

Provenance: Property from the Estate of Joan Conway Crancer, St. Louis, Missouri, acquired from Galerie du Sycomore, Paris, 8 November 1990. 

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