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An important Egyptian Limestone Spindle flask inscribed for the Royal Nurse Senay, ca. 1427 - 1400 BC - Sands of Time Ancient Art
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An important Egyptian Limestone Spindle flask inscribed for the Royal Nurse Senay, ca. 1427 - 1400 BC

Period: New Kingdom
Dynasty: Dynasty 18
Reign: reign of Amenhotep II
Date: ca. 1427–1400 B.C.
Geography: From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes; Probably from Valley of the Kings, Tomb of Merytre-Hatshepsut (KV 42), Re-burial of Senetnay, wife of Sennefer, Mayor of Thebes.
Medium: Limestone

Stone dummy vases were created as funerary gifts in place of more expensive actual vessels. Some were painted to imitate gold vessels brought as tribute from Syria. This elegant flask was copied from an imported pottery "spindle bottle" of the type that Syrians are depicted carrying in contemporary Egyptian tomb paintings, actual examples of which would most likely have contained some sort of resin.  Carved from white limestone, it features a flat rim, slender neck and elongated, ovoid body with gently flaring sides incised with two vertical registers of hieroglyphs inlaid with 'Egyptian blue' reading "“The venerated one in the presence of Osiris, the royal nurse Senay."  

Senay (Senetnay) was the Royal Nurse and wife of Sennefer, the Mayor of Thebes.   A statue of Sennefer and his wife is a frequently illustrated sculpture from ancient Egypt.

The names of Sennefer and his wife were found inside the tomb of Merytre-Hatshepsut, wife of Tuthmosis III, (KV42) in the Valley of the Kings on various canopic jars and vessels, indicating Sennefer's probable high favor with the king. The shape of the vase is unusual for the vessels in the tomb, as most inscribed with Sennefer and Senay's names were wider and rounder jars rather than spindle vases.

Dimensions: Height: 11 3/8 x 3 1/16 in. (28.9 x 7.8 cm)

Condition:  Incomplete, in two pieces professionally rejoined with loss to base and shoulder, discolouration to one side indicating how the vessel originally rested; a rare and impressive piece with clear inscription.

Provenance:  This jar was probably among those discovered in or near the empty tomb of Merytre-Hatshepsut, wife of Tuthmosis III, (KV42) in the Valley of the Kings and recorded by Howard Carter (Carter, Howard. Report upon the Tomb of Sen-nefer, ASAE 2 (1901): 196-200).   It is possible that Sennefer, Mayor of Thebes, received an unusual personal favour from the king, allowing him the privilege to be buried in this tomb for canopic jars and vessels (Carter is not specific as to quantity) with the names of Sennefer and his wife, Senetnay, were found inside and on the steps outside the tomb due to the haste of tomb robbers from the 22nd Dynasty.  From excavation to 2000, provenance is unknown however some vessels clearly made it onto the antiquities market for the Metropolitan Museum note in their Feb 1926 bulletin the donation of a "limestone vase of Sennefer, from Thebes" as the "Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas H. Foulds" ( "List of Accessions and Loans." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 21.2 (1926): 58-59. Web).   Thereafter, private NY collection, acquired Christie's, London October, 2000, on loan to the Michael C Carlos museum, Emory University from 2004 - 2015, loan number: L2004.009.001.

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