An Egyptian Pre-Dynastic Blacktop Vessel, ca 3600-3300BC


this is an excellent example of black-topped red pottery of pre-dynastic Amratian design. The vessel stands on a small, flat base tapering outward to a rounded shoulder under a wide mouth with slightly raised lip. The exterior is coated with a thin red iron-oxide wash that was burnished to a lustrous finish. The black top is carbon, produced by subjecting the top of the vessel to the actions of dense smoke. The vessel was made by hand using coil construction (the process is still visible on the inside).

Called B-ware by W.M. Flinders Petrie because of their distinctive black rims, black-topped beakers and bowls made of riverine clay are a hallmark of the Naqada Ic-IIb Period. For very similar examples see: Hayes, William "The Scepter of Egypt, A background study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art" Volume I, Figure 7 page 16;  Cleveland Museum "Catalogue of Egyptian Art" 1999 #48;  Detroit Institute of Arts, McKissick Museum and the Earth Sciences and Resources Institute of the University of South Carolina,"The First Egyptians", page 52.

Condition:  Slight hairline crack to the exterior surface of the rim and a few minor losses to the rim that do not detract, otherwise the vessel is intact and in very good condition overall with some areas of the black top showing an almost metallic sheen. The burnished red surface of the vessel exhibits a fine craquelure where preserved, with losses relating to erosion or soluble salt efflorescence.

Dimensions: Height: 5-1/4 inches (13.33 cm)

Provenance: The Simonian Family Collection of Ancient Art, Switzerland, acquired in the 1960's and then by descent, legally imported into the USA in 2016.

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