An Egyptian Early Dynastic Gneiss Stone Vessel, Early Dynastic Period, Dynasty 1-2, ca. 3100 - 2649 BCE
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A superbly crafted gneiss vessel, the fine, aggregate stone comprises a variety of dark inclusions in a beige matrix. The elegant form is characteristic of early dynastic stone vases, the fine ovoid form with offset rounded rim on a flat base, the interior well hollowed. Vessels such as this example were highly prized in antiquity and were probably used to store valuable and exotic perfumed oils or ointments.
Background: Pre-Dynastic 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 BCE 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 related examples see: Robert V. Fullerton, Art Museum Predynastic Egyptian Pottery Museum No. EL 01.001.2004 pg. 118,119,120,121 ex. 44-45.
Ref: Winifred Needler, Predynastic and Archaic Egypt in The Brooklyn Museum, New York: The Brooklyn Museum (1984), pg. 238.
Condition: Chip to the rim professionally rejoined, some minor wear/loss and accretions to the body that do not detract, otherwise the vessel is intact and in excellent condition overall.
Dimensions: Height: 2 1/2 inches (6.5 cm)
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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