An Egyptian Squat Lug Vessel, Early Dynastic Period, ca. 3100–2649 B.C.


superbly crafted fossiliferous vessel, the fine, aggregate stone comprising a variety of light creamy inclusions in a beige 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 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.

As the people of the Nile Valley moved out of the Paleolithic period to Predynastic, their considerable skills in stoneworking developed even further, leading to Egypt being called the "civilization of stone". While their experience was primarily with flint formed into tools, they soon began to make stone vases which required great skill to craft and were considered luxury items. Their permanence made them especially valued for goods meant to accompany the deceased into the afterlife. Initially, the vessels 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 related examples see: Robert V. Fullerton, Art Museum Predynastic Egyptian Pottery Museum No. EL 01.001.2004 pg. 188,119,120,121ex. 44-45, Sir W.M.Flinders Petrie, The Funeral Furniture OF Egypt Stone and Metal Vases, Stone Vases 62-90: Dynasties I-III, fig, 64-65

Condition: Small chip to shoulder on one side otherwise intact and in excellent condition overall. A very fine example.

Dimensions: Height: 5 cm (2 inches), Width: 7.93 cm (3 1/8 inches)

Provenance:  Chester T. Tripp private collection, Chicago, acquired at Chicago auction in 1988, thereafter JME private collection, New York, NY.

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