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Catalogue by Janine Bourriau
Exhibition organised by the
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
6 October to 11 December 1981
Cambridge University Press
London New York New Rochelle
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ - Melbourne Sydney
Published by the Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge
The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 lRP
32 East 57th Street, New York, NY 10022, USA
296 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park, Melbourne 3206, Australia
Fitzwilliam Museum 1981
First published 1981
Printed in Great Britain at the
University Press, Cambridge
British Library cataloguing in publication data
Bourriau, Janine
Umm el-Ga' ab.
1. Pottery, Ancient Egyptian- Exhibitions
I. Title II. Fitzwilliam Museum
796.3'0932 NK3810
ISBN o 521 24065 4 hard covers
Foreword by Michael Jaffe 6
Introduction 8
Abbreviations and concordances 10
1 Technology: Potters, kilns and clays 14
2 Decoration: Introduction, 23. Incised and burnished ornament, 23. Painted motifs: the river and
the desert, 26. Painted motifs: linear designs, 29. Modelling in the round and relief, 30
3 Science and archaeology: Thermoluminescence, 40. Neutron activation analysis, 41
4 Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods, c. 500o-2628 Be 44
5 Old Kingdom and First Intermediate period, 2628--2040 BC 51
6 Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate period, 204o-1551 BC 55
7 A burial of the Middle Kingdom 6o
8 Domestic pottery of the Middle Kingdom 65
9 New Kingdom, 1551-1070 BC 72
10 Late period, 107o-3o BC 8o
11 Roman-Coptic period, 30 Be to AD 641 88
12 Handmade pottery from Nubia and the Sudan, 450o-1500 BC 97
13 Late Meroitic and Christian periods in Nubia, c. AD 10o-1400 104
14 Magic and ritual 112
15 Trade 121
16 Foreign influences on Egyptian pottery 130
Map of the Nile valley 140
Chronological table 141
E.40.1921 22S E.P.23 191 rSoo2 S9
E.75.1921 26S E.P.37 151 1Sl70 94
E.76.1921 249 E.P.136 122 1S345 12S
E.126.1921 13 E.P.17S 10 1S365 99
E.16.1925 263 E.P.246 231 1S371 124
E.1.192S 32 E.P.2S6 272 1S3SO 100
E.5.192S 270 E.P-447 165 1S3S5 123
E.10.1931 15 1S470 126
E.210.1931 6 E.SS.14 114 1S4S4 121
E.20S.1932 190 1S496 101
E.170.1939 33 GR.6S.1S94 162 1S514 134
E.1S6.1939 237 GR.S2.1S94 162 1S540 104
E.1SS.1939 240 GR.S9.1S94 162 1S577 117
E.43.1946. 271 GR.229.1S94 162 rS627 125
E+1950 76 GR.14S.1S99 164 rS636 119
E.15.1950 23S GR.300.1S99 163 19043 14S
E.17.1950 227 GR.S.1932 247 19206 156
E.2.1962 221 GR.9.1977 166 19213 159
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford City of Birmingham Museum and Art
E.103.1900 s
E.121.1900 142
E.197S 106 E.122.1900 266
E.19S6 107 78S'66 223 E.136.1900 183
E.2326 143 791'66 224 E.1S9.1900 254
E.2405 144 797'66 225 E.190.1900 254 E.6.1962 222 19226 154
E.2432 4S E.2S6.1900 19 E.7.1962 220 19300 172
E.2463 269 w 113S r6o E.287.1900 Sl E.19.1971 1S4 Museum of Classical Archaeology, 19315 170
E.22.1971 171 Cambridge 19347 155
E.1S.1976 rSS
19372 r6S
E.2.19S0 16
19455 176
E.1.19S1 241 20500 90
30215 36
EGA.2919.1943 175
Petrie Collection, University College,
30223 13S
EGA.2935.1943 174
30224 219
EGA.293S.1943 177 30225
EGA.29391943 179 2965 43
30226 21S
E.2541 lOS w 13423 105 E.91-2.1902 229
E.2775 51 w 127630 136 E.94-1902 131
E.2777 45 E.105.1902 132
E.2S02 39
British Museum, London
E.111.1902 135
E.2S07 41 E.112.1902 135
E.3240 253 5114 49 E.140.1902 161
E.3499 6o 24706 137 E.161.1902 22
E.3509 59 35993 167 E.162.1902 234
E.4153 109 51111 97
E.176.1902 130
E.4273 62
51477 216 E.1S0.1902 112 EGA.2940.1943 17S 4129 4
EGA.4157.1943 245 56SS 5
Concordance of provenance and
EGA.415S.1943 245 5742 71
EGA.4160.1943 245 6297 30
catalogue numbers
EGA.4325.1943 S2 8695 57 Abadiyeh: 39, 45 Abydos: 7, 8, 11, 12, 4S,
EGA.4330.1943 40 S701 146
51, S1, SS, 97 102, 128, 142-4, 149 161,
EGA.4571.1943 31 8902 54 192,202,20S,229,234-5253-4.266,273
EGA.4663.1943 205 9092 2S
Alexandria: 166. Amarna: 53, 55-6, 139,
EGA.4664.1943 77 9096 6S
244, 246-S, 267(?). Armant: S4-5. Atfieh:
EGA.4666.1943 75 9240 27 168. Badari: 27-S, 68-9. Ballas: 72, 73(?),
EGA.4667.1943 26
9403 69 7S(?), 79, 259(?). Beni Hasan: 105-13, 115,
EGA.4668.1943 197 10704 194 130, 236. Debeira West: 223-5. Dendera:
EGA.4669.1943 196 lOS53 So
17(?), 21. Edfu: 26(?). Ehnasya: 176. Faras:
EGA.4676.1943 204 13477 46 173, 1S7, 206, 209-12, 214-16. Fayum:
EGA-4683.1943 152 13479 47 17S. Firka: 243. Gaza: 271. Gemayemi: 155.
EGA-46S4.1943 56 13501 255 Giza: 1S(?). Gurob: 147, 249, 26S. Haraga:
EGA.500S.1943 267 13507 251 63, 91. Hawara: 121, r8o(?). Hierakonpolis:
EGA.5997.1943 141 14115 193 19, 41, 65. Hu: 9, 14, 22, 62, So, 95, 103-4,
EGA.6027.1943 53 14122 193 120(?), 127, 129, 131-5, 145 230, 264-5
EGA.61S5.1943 55 15310 74 El-Kab: 1, 2, 93, 99, roo, 123-4, 128.
EGA.61SS.1943 140 15337 35 Kahun: 118-19, 125. Karanog: 226. Kerma:
EGA.63S5.1943 67 15343 58 207. Lahun: 156-7, 159. Maidum: 87. Mat-
EGA.63S6.1943 25 15350 3S mar: 6, 15, 98. Meroe: 213, 218-19. Musta-
EGA.63S7.1943 195 15354 37 gidda:7o.!Vaqada:3-5,23-4,29,3444,64,
EGA.63S8.1943 203 16244 230 66, 71, 73(?), 78(?), 252, 257-S, 259(?).
EGA.63S9.1943 19S 16773 11S !Vaucratis: 162-5. !Vubt: 101. Qasr Ibrim:
EGA. 6390.1943- 199 17366 235 22o-2. Qau: S6, S9-9o, 117, 200,-262-3.
EGA.6391.1943 232 1753S IS
Rifeh: 201, 239. Riqqa: 96, 250. Saft: 14S,
EGA.106.1949 1 :a__n.5.47

170, Sanam: 13. Saqqara: 171, 1S4.
17616 87 Shaheinab: 193-4. Shurufa: rSr(?), 182.
E.P.7 20 17855 91 Sidmant: 50, 94, 116, 22S, 261. Tarkhan:
E.P.S 260 17S8S 200
S3, 92, 251. Thebes: 47, 49, 52, 154, 167,

217 1791:2 201 232, -2:33\T;-:-Teflel-Yahuaiya: 46,
53S85 42 E.193.1902
rSS8.26S 61 5S2S3 153 E.28.1903 120
1S92.1066 52 5S57S 149 E.29.1903 95
1895330 66
59774 242 E.35.1903 236
1S95339 29 62391 70 E.6S.1903 115
1S954S2 34 65577 207 E.7ld.1903 113
1S95496 24 E.99.1903 103
1S95502 23
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
E.130.1903 234
1S95522 257 E.141.1903 234
1895550 252 E.15.1S87 233 E.202.1903 110
1S95622 44 E.157.1S91 36 E.2o8.1903 111
1912.207 206 E.160.1S91 169 E.209.1903 106
1912.320 214 E.177.1891 189 E.210.1903 110
1912.397 212 E.34.1S96 3 E.211.1903 11
1912.401 211 E.54.1S96 73
E.212-215.1903 234
1912.410 209 E.73-1896 258 E. 471907 239
1912.421 1S7 E.S3.1S96 72 E.16.1909 165
1912.503 210 E.S4.1S96 78 E.22.1910 102
1912.506 215 E.S5.1S96 79 E.42.1910 88
1912.688 173 E.86.1S96 259 E-45.1910 7
1914.691 157 E.67.1S9S 65 E.l571910 226
1921.1290 50 E.70.1S98 64 E.1S2.1910 12S
1921.1322 147 E.30.1S99 256 E.12.1911 1SO
1921.1376 261 E.31.1899 256 E.13.1911 20S
192352S S6 E.63.1899 264 E.77.1911 202
192357S 262 E.S3.1S99 9 E.27.1912 S3
1927.2114 244 E.98.1S99 127 E.52.1912 92
1932.913 9L E.105.1S99 14 . r..S
1935167 84 E.190.1899 1S6 E.167.1912 192
193516S S5 E.192.1899 265 E.r68.1912 1S2
1935478 243 E.201.1S99 17 E.17.1913 96
1972.1745 1S5 E.202.1S99 145 E.21.1913 2
E.P.22 150
179SS 116 2
E.217.1899 129 E.67.1914 12
E.250.1S99 133 E.6S.1914 63
E.251.1S99 21 E.74.1914 250
'A potter is under (i.e. carries) clay. His life time is like
that of an animal. Dirt besmears him more than a pig ....
His clothes are stiff from dry clay, his loin-cloth is like a
rag'- thus Papyrus Sallier rr- a school text for apprentice
scribes (trans. Holthoer, New Kingdom Pottery, pp. 17-18).
Potters' workshops were probably attached to all large
households, palaces and temples as well as villages. As
today, pottery-making may have been a seasonal activity,
determined by the rhythm of field work or taken up as
demand required it. It was certainly a local and not a
centralised industry, thus subject to local fashions and
needs, but it became specialised early, so that different
materials and techniques were used for pottery with
different functions (see 116-35).
The potter's raw material was alluvial silt from the river
or nearest canal, or the soft shale under or between the
layers of limestone rock of the desert. In Egyptian the
river valley was called the 'Black Land' and the desert the
'Red Land', and these colours are echoed in the black-to-
red firing Nile silt (grey when unfired - 14) and the
pink-to-white-to-green firing marl clays.
Before it could be shaped, the material had to be
kneaded by hand or with the feet. In the case of Nile silt,
straw, ash, dung or sand was added to make it less fluid;
marl clays required crushing and the addition of water to
make them malleable. The body material, whether marl
clay or silt, is called the ground mass, the material occurring
in it inclusions. Anything known to have been deliberately
added to the body material by the potter is called temper.
Often, if the inclusions are straw, sand or pottery dust,
which commonly occurred in the potter's workshop, only
the number and size of particles indicate that it was a
deliberate and not an accidental addition to the paste.
By its nature Nile silt is a more homogeneous, consis-
tent material than marl clay, which has been excavated
from a multitude of different desert sites. In the past, the
terms 'Qena' and 'Ballas' (Lucas, Industries, p. 382), de-
rived from two modern marl clays used in the pottery-
making region of the Wadi Qena, have been applied to
marl clays. While these terms conveyed, to those familiar
with modern Egyptian pottery, a certain quality, colour
and texture, they ought now to be abandoned, and,
however tentatively, a more precise classification be
attempted. The groupings applied in this catalogue for
both silt and marl clays were arrived at in discussions
during the preparation of the Introduction to Ancient Egyp-
tian Pottery, to be published shortly by the German Insti-
tute of Archaeology in Cairo. A fuller description of them
will be given there than is possible here. This catalogue
has provided the opportunity to test out the groupings,
and is, in this sense, an experiment.
It is easiest to establish broad categories of Nile silts,
and they have been divided according to the quantity and
size of the particles of sand and straw present. The straw
usually burns out in firing leaving rectangular holes,
impressions or silica skeletons behind (Boodle in Mond
and Myers, Cemeteries of Armant, p. 188).
Nile silt A contains fine sand of all sizes, but no visible
(under microscope X 30 magnification) straw. It is to be
identified with Nordstrom fabric IE (Nordstrom,
Neolithic and A-Group, pp. 50-1).
Nile silt B contains fine to coarse sand and some fine
Nile silt C contains sand and coarse straw.
The marl clays have been differentiated by the character
and size of their inclusions.
Fine Marl A has a homogeneous groundmass with large
irregular pores originating from burnt-out carbonate
(limestone) material. It usually has a negative reaction
to HCI. The variants 2-4 are differentiated by their
varying amounts of sand and by colour.
Variant 1 is light red (loR 6/6) to red (2.5YR 5/6), some-
times with a pale-grey core visible in the section. There
are conspicuous fine to coarse fragments of limestone
evenly distributed in the groundmass. limestone
has been added as a temper, and in this low-fired
variant the particles show no signs of decomposition.
Variant 2 is pink (7.5YR 8/4) to white (5Y 8/1) with a little
fine sand; dense, very hard.
Variant 3 is pale yellow (5 Y 8/3), often with spots of pink
from uneven firing. There qre conspicuous pores from
burnt-out limestone; more sand than variant 2.
Variant 4 is pink (7.5YR 7/4) to pale yellow (5Y 7/3), and
there is a conspicuous quantity of fine to coarse sand,
and sometimes a small quantity of straw.
Marl B has a homogeneous groundmass, de._nser than A,
containing approximately 40% fine- to coarse-textured
river sand added as a temper. The fracture is pink (5YR
7/4) and the surface gritty to the touch; sometimesthere
is a small quantity of straw.
Marl C has a compact groundmass with numerous large
inclusions, in varying stages of decomposi-
Fig. 1
tion due to high firing temperature. There is up to 10%
sand grains. The colour in section is weak red (2.5YR
5/2) to light red (lOR 5-6/8), and it is extremely hard.
Marl D has a medium-hard groundmass. There are abun-
dant, up to 25%, inclusions of limestone of all sizes,
with some fine to medium sand. There are none of the
irregular pores distinctive of Marls A and c. The colour
of the section is pale grey-brown, the surface light grey
and gritty.
Not all the pottery in the catalogue fits neatly into these
categories, and in these cases a brief description of the
fabric has been given.
For the clays of Nubia and the Sudan, I have adopted
the classifications of Nordstrom (Neolithic and A-Group,
pp. 48-55), and. Adams (W. Y. Adams in Kush 10 (1962),
p. 249; id., Kush 12 (1964), pp. 129-30).
Having selected an,d prepared his clay, the next stage
for the potter is shaping. Four basic methods were used:
hand modelling, moulding, using a turning device and
throwing on a wheel. The simplest and earliest method
used was free modelling with the fingers (15), and the
technique was never completely superseded but contin-
ued in use for some necropolis pottery, models, bread
moulds and large vessels, often in association with care-
less finishing and firing techniques. After the Predynastic
period, it was not the skilled potter's method (except for
figure vases: 49, 51), but in the Sudan the tradition con-
tinued much longer (193-208) and reached levels of skill
never surpassed by the wheel-using potters of Egypt. The
other common hand method was coiling (3), 'a process of
building up the vessel wall with superimposed rolls of .
clay' (A. Shepard, Ceramics for the Archaeologist (Washing-
ton, 1968), p. 57). Moulding, where a lump of clay was
pressed over a core, was used only for certain specialised
items, such as bread moulds (2). A much more common
technique was turning (fig. 1), where the man on the left is
shown supporting a pot on a block of greased wood (?),
turning it with one.hand-while-he--finishes-off the rim of
the jar. Since the turning device he uses is without an axis
duced in throwing, but they always stop short of the rim
and shoulder of the vessel on both the inside and outside,
and sometimes the lines overlap.
The earliest certain representation of a wheel with an
axis capable of producing enough centrifugal force to
allow the potter to throw dates from the V Dynasty (reign
of Neuserre, 2416-2392 Be) (fig. 2). This development is
clearly visible on the pottery from that date onwards (see
7). The rilling lines continue over the whole interior sur-
face, and a faint spiral on the interior shows how the
potter manipulated the force generated by the rotation of
the wheel to draw the pot up. The exterior of the vessel
' '
: (
Fig. 2
looks as if the pot was merely turned, since the rilling
lines stop below the rim, and the surface is trimmed and
smoothed by hand. The reason for this is that the wheel
was rotated by the potter himself, leaving only one hand
free to work the clay. The wheel was used, therefore,
during the first stage in the constrU<;tion, and this mixture
of hand and throwing techniques continued in use until
the Second Intermediate period (1650-1551 Be). The
change is visible on the pottery (22) before it is confirmed
in a scene (fig. 3) from the tomb of Kenamun (Dynasty
XVIII, reign of Amenophis II, 1438-,-1412 BC) which shows
two potters around a wheel, an assistant turning it with
both hands, the potter supporting the wheel head with
his foot and using both hands on the clay. The actual
process shown is not throwing, but centring the lump of
clay on the wheel. From the XVIII Dynasty (1551-1J06_13C)_
(D. Arnold inMDAIK 32 (1976), pp. 12-18, fig. 7), it is too
-slow--and-inte-Fmi-t-tent to produce centrifugal-ferGe,-outc-----/ 1---------------- -- --.
utilised by a skilled potter for the final stage of construc-
tion, it produces an extremely regular rim (3, 5). The
parallel lines which appear look like the rilling lines pro-
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
onwards the pottery was increasingly thrown and the
bases finished on the wheel. The rilling lines are contin-
uous over the exterior and interior, and the boundary
between the first stage, when the pot was shaped, and
the second stage, after drying, when the pot was replaced
upside down on the wheel for the trimming off of excess
clay from the base, becomes less and less visible. The final
stage in wheel technology was the introduction of the
kick wheel, which appears first (fig. 4) in reliefs from the
Temple of Hibis, showing the creator god Khnum. They
date from the reign of Darius, 518--485 BC. At present it is
not possible to document this development in the pottery
itself (Holthoer, New Kingdom Pottery, fig. 32, p. 34),
although it may be significant that ribbing as a decoration
(12) does not appear until after this time.
The last stage before firing was the trimming off of the
excess clay, the smoothing of the surface and the applica-
tion of decoration. Before the finishing processes were
begun, the pot was set to dry in the shade to evaporate
some moisture before firing, and until it was hard enough
to be handled without distorting the shape. Some pots
never got beyond this stage (14). Before drying, the potter
usually smoothed the exterior with a solution of the body
material mixed with water; this is called a self slip and
sometimes it is clearly visible (1o), covering the holes on
the surface left by burnt-out straw, and sometimes not
visible at all.
Our knowledge of hand-finishing methods comes
mainly from the period up to the XVIII Dynasty; there-
after, because the finishing was done on the wheel, tool
marks are increasingly hard to ide-ntiy. Various methods-
were used to remove the excess clay from the pot base:
cutting with a blade, pinching with the fingers, slicing the
pot off the parent lump of clay with string (fig. 5). After
this the inside and outside surface was smoothed with
the fingers or scratched with a stiff brush made of reed.
The care taken with this final treatment of the surface
Fig. 5
largely determines the quality of the finished product. A
coloured slip (fine clay, water and pigment) or wash (pig-
ment and water) was often applied, sometimes with a
brush, to make the material less porous, to imitate
another fabric or material (19), or simply to improve the
vessel's appearance (Mond and Myers, Cemeteries of
Armant, pp. 182-3). The washed or slipped surface was
often rubbed to produce a lustre and to remove tool
marks. The process was done in two ways: by burnishing
with a hard, smooth tool, like a pebble- and in this case
the individual strokes are almost always visible (4, 13) -
and by polishing, where a yielding tool such as a cloth was
used to create a uniform glossy surface (Bulletin de Liaison
1 (1975), p. 30).
'' L

Fig. 6
After these processes were complete and the pot had
been decorated (see below, pp. 23-39) it was ready for
firing. Few ancient Egyptian kilns have survived, and
even fewer fully recorded by archaeologists, so that this
important process still remains in some respects myste-
rious. The means by which the black-topped wares of
Predynastic Egypt and the Kerma culture of the Sudan
were produced are not fully understood (Lucas, Indus-
tries, pp. 381-2; P. Davies in JEA 48 (1962), pp. 19-24;
Nordstrom, Neolithic and A-Group, p. 45). Experiments
have succeeded in reprodtJ,cing it, but cannot be cer-
tain that these were the methods actually used. The pots
themselves are not-as-informative
shaping techniques and clays, so at present we must rely
heavily on the interpretation of scenes from the walls of
tombs (figs. 6, 7), on the few kilns which survive.(tigs. 8,9
and on a study of modern potters' methods (R. Hampe
and A. Winter, Bei Topfern und Topferinnen in Kreta, Messe-
nien und Zypern (Mainz, 1962)). Successful firing requires
Fig. 7 Fig. 8
sufficient heat, draught and oxygen to burn off the carbo-
naceous matter in the clay. For a uniform surface colour
(only rarely achieved), the rate and degree of heating had
to be strictly controlled, the stacking of the pottery in the
kiln carefully arranged and, above all, the pottery
protected from the deposition of soot (17). This was pro-
bably achieved by separating, and even isolating the
firing chamber from the hearth and chimney. On the
other hand, the surface could be deliberately blackened
by bringing the pottery into contact with the smoke (16).
Different clays required different firing conditions; Nile
silt, for example, was fired at a lower temperature (5oo-
8oo oc in the New Kingdom: Nordstrom in Holthoer, New
Kingdom Pottery, p. 62) than marl clays (85o-10oo oe:
Nordstrom, Neolithic and A-Group, p. 45).
Old Kingdom, 2628--2134 BC.
Shouldered jar. Nile silt c, reddish yellow (5YR 6/6),
well fired. Base coiled, rest of jar modelled with the
fingers. Exterior roughly shaped with fingers, surface left
From el-Kab, grave 3 Fitzwilliam .193.1902. Gift of
Egyptian Research Account. H: 26.5 em. D: 13.1 em.
Finger-modelling is the simplest technique available to
the potter, and for hundreds of years pots like this one
were made to satisfy the everyday demands for pottery.
The shape changed very slowly. Like vegetable and
dried-milk tins in modern Egypt, the pots were used to
serve every conceivable purpose, as the thousands of
examples excavated from Old Kingdom cemeteries and
settlements show.
Cf. Quibell, El Kab, pl. xii, 23; D. Arnold in MDAIK 32
(1976), pl. 1, a-b; B. Kemp in IAEP (forthcoming).
Old Kingdom, 2628--2134 BC.
Bread mould. Nile silt c, brown (7.5YR 5/4), smoke
. discolouration of surface. Moulded over a core, excess
clay cut from rim with knife. Upper body smoothed with
tool, lump of clay on base roughly shaped with fingers.
The outline of a large eye drawn with finger on inside
before firing.
From el-Kab, stairway tomb 5 U.C 17547. Gift---of--
Egyptian Research Account. H: 20.0 em. D: 25.0 em.
Fig. 9
The eye-was-intended-to form a raised sign on the loaf,
like the foliage pattern on 117. The core may have been
simply a round lump of wood or stone. The interior of the
--mould-is-completely smoot .
Quibell, El Kab, pls. xii, 35, xviii, 46; B. Kemp in
IAEP (forthcoming); A. Eggebrecht in MDAIK 30 (1974),
fig. 1, d.
Naqada I (late), c. 450o-4ooo Be.
Tall beaker. Nile silt B, with black top on exterior only.
Rim turned, body built up by coiling. The individual coils
smoothed out on inside with a knife. Surface has a weak
red (10R 4/3) wash and has been lightly polished.
From Naqada, grave 252. Fitzwilliam E.34.1896. Gift of
Sir Flinders Petrie. H: 32.5 em. D: 11.2 em.
Petrie, Naqada, pl. xix, B 27f; Baumgartel, Supplement,
pl. x; Petrie Corpus, pl. iv, 27f.
Naqada II (early), c. 400o-3ooo BC.
Globular flask. Nile silt A, with black mouth and in-
terior. Handmade, probably by coiling, base cut to shape.
Red (2.5YR 5/6) wash outside, vertically burnished.
From Naqada, grave 1449. U.C. 4129. H: 16.6 em. D:
11.8 em.
The potter has controlled the firing with consummate
skill to achieve a striking contrast between the black top
and the red body of this flask.
Petrie, Naqada, pl. xxi, 92b; Baumgartel, Supplement,
pl. xliii; Petrie, Corpus, pl. viii, 92b.
Naqada I (mid), c. 450o-4ooo BC.
Tall beaker. Nile silt A, with black mouth. Carefully
controlled firing. Rim turned, body built up by coili-ngc-
Red (2.5YR 5/6) wash outside, including base, vertically
From Naqada, grave 1471. U.C. 5688. H: 20.4 em. D:
11.6 em.
The quality of this beaker is outstanding - the indi-
vidual burnishing strokes are hardly visible, and the
4 and 5
black top most skilfully achieved. Incidentally, the potter
who made it had very large hands. The interior is quite
smooth except for a few coil joins still visible at the bot-
tom, which the potter could not reach.
Petrie, Corpus, pl. iii, B 22j; Baumgartel, Supplement,
pl. xliv.
Dynasty V, 2465-2325 Be.
Small basin. Fine marl A, variant 1. Thrown, exterior
smoothed with fingers from within one centimetre of
base of rim. Interior and exterior covered with red (2.5YR
5/8) slip and polished.
From Matmar, grave 3251. Fitzwilliam .210.1931. Gift
of the British Museum. H: 74 em. D: 21.4 em.
The spiral faintly visible on the inside underneath the
thick layer of polished slip confirms that the dish was
thrown on a wheel. This dish belongs to the class known
as 'Maidum ware', so called because of the numbers
found at Maidum, around the pyramid of King Snefru
(2575-2551 Be). For another see 87. Bowls and basins of
this shape, based on a metal prototype, are, however,
found from Dynasty III until the end of the Old Kingdom
(2628--2134 Be) in a variety of fabrics, although the finest
are made in this clay.
Brunton, Matmar, pl. xxix, 1; cf. D. Arnold inMDAIK 32
(1976), pl. 4, b; Dieter and Dorothea Arnold, Der Tempel
Qasr el-Sagha (Mainz, 1979), p. 32, fig. 19, 1; W. Kaiser in
E. Edel et a!., Das Sonnenheiligtum des Konigs Userkaf, II
(Wiesbaden, 1969), p. 81, fig. 10; B. Kemp in IAEP (forth-
6 and 7 inside
6 and 7 outside
Dynasty XII-XIII, from the reign of Ammenemes III,
1844-C. 1650 BC.
Small carinated bowl. Nile silt B, light brown (7.5YR
6-5/4). Even firing. Thrown, base cut to shape with knife.
Criss-cross line design on upper body painted in red
From Abydos,'grave B 13b. Fitzwilliam E-45.1910. Gift
of Egypt Exploration Fund. H: 5.1 em. D: 10.0 em.
It is interesting to compare this bowl with 6, from the V
Dynasty (2465-2325), close to the beginning of the adop- .
tion of a throwing technique. The difference is most ob-
Dynasty XVIII, reign of Amenophis I, 1526-1505 BC.
Bag-shaped jar. Nile silt B. Thrown, major point marks
boundary between first and second stages of throwing.
Exterior covered with red (2.5YR 5/6) wash applied with
brush. Eight groups of three short incised lines, probably
for decoration.
From Abydos, grave E310. Fitzwilliam .103.1900. Gift
of Egyptian Research Account. H: 19.7 em. D: 11.8 em.
There are many unpublished objects from E 310, dating
from XIII Dynasty (Garstang, El Arcibah, pl. xxvii) to the
early XVIII Dynasty.
Cf. Brunton and Engelbach, Gurob, pl. xxxiv, 24B (with-
out black lip).
vious in the handling of the exterior of the vessel: hand 9 JAR WITH A KNIFE-TRIMMED BASE
finishing begins within one centimetre of the base of the Dynasty XIII, 1785-c. 1650 BC.
rim in the earlier dish, whereas only the base is trimmed Globular jar. Fine marlA, variant4, pale yellow (5Y7/3).
by hand in the later example. Such distinctions are very Thrown, excess clay cut off with knife from below--major- -
useful to the archaeologist, since they provide additional point. Incised line just above maximum diameter.
criteria for dating. The decoration perhaps imitates the From Hu, grave Y 447 Fitzwilliam E;8y:r899:-Gift of
woven linen slings in which pottery was often carried. Egypt Exploration Fund. H: 18.0 em. D: 12.4 em.
The bowl was used as a drinking cup, like others in the The excavator's notes reveal that the only other objects
same fabric. --------from-grave Y 447 were a tiny carrre-Iian-scarab-and-a-.few--
Peet, Cemeteries of Abydos, II, pl. xxix, B 13; J. Bourriau in Egyptian faience and one carnelian bead now in the Royal
IAEP (forthcoming); for base, cf. D. Arnold in MDAIK 32 Ontario Museum (B 173).
(1976), pl. 8, c-d. Petrie, Diospolis Parva, pl. xxxvi, 168.
9 and 10
First Intermediate period to early Dynasty XII, 2134-1892
Bag-shaped jar. Nile silt C, reddish brown (5YR 513).
Unevenly fired. Thrown, excess clay scratched away with
a reed brush from major point. Incised potmark made
after firing.
Fitzwilliam E.P.178. H: 15.9 em. D: 13.6 em.
There is a clear boundary between the upper body,
which was wet-smoothed by applying a thin slip of the
body material or simply water while the pot was still on
the wheel- the potter's fingerprints are still visible- and
the roughly scratched lower body. The jar is in the clearly
defined Upper Egyptian style.
For form, cf. Petrie, Dendereh, pl. xviii, 191; for style, D.
Arnold in MDAIK 28 (1972), pp. 43-6.
Dynasty XVIII, reign of Amosis, 1551-1526 JlC.
Model vase. Nile silt B, light brown (7. 5 YR 6/4). Slightly
warped. Thrown, sliced from the wheel with a piece of
string and left untrimmed.
From Abydos, foundation deposit of Ahmose. Fitzwil-
liam .211.1903. Gift of Egypt Exploration Fund. H: 55
em. D: 57 em.
Foundation deposit pottery, which was votive and
never intended for use, was generally very carelessly
made (see 234-5).
Ayrton eta!., Abydos, III, p. 34, pl. xlvii, 84.
12 and 13
Coptic period, late 4th-7th century AD.
Small carinated squat jar. Nile silt B, with large lime-
stone inclusions, reddish brown (2.5YR 4/4). Even, high
firing up to 900 oc. Thrown, vessel wall dented with the
thumb at regular intervals. Surface ribbed on the wheel
above carination, band of white wash around rim and
four irregular spots of white around shoulder, overlaid
with black pigment, applied with finger.
From Abydos, Coptic settlement. Fitzwilliam
E.67.1914. Gift of Egypt Exploration Fund. H: 8.9 em. D:
10.9 em.
The original firing temperature is indicated by the
condition of the limestone inclusions, which show signs
of decomposition, and this starts to happen at tempera-
tures close to 900 oc. The ribbing is simply an exaggera-
tion for decorative effect of the rilling lines, made by
applying slight pressure to the surface while the pot is
rotating. The thumb indentations are found commonly
on pottery of the Roman to early Coptic periods (see 215),
and may have been adopted in imitation of imported
Roman wares. A late Roman lamp (T. E. Peet and W.L.S.
Loat,, The Cemeteries of Abydos (London, 1913), III, pl. xiv,
8) from the Coptic settlement at Abydos suggests the
lower limit given for the dating of this jar.
Cf. Mond and Myers, Temples of Armant, pl. lix, 545c;
for decoration, cf. ibid., pl.lxxviii, PAb B22; for the Coptic
settlement at Abydos, Peet, op. cit., p. xi.
Napatan, reigns of Piankhy to Amtalqa, 747-555 Be.
Beaker. Fine Nile silt. Thrown, pale red (loR 6/4) wash
inside and outside, burnished on the wheel.
From Sanam opposite Gebel Barkal in the Sudan, grave
1422. Fitzwilliam.126.1921. Gift ofF. Ll. Griffith. H: 12.3
em. D: 9.1 em.
F. Ll. Griffith in LAAA 10 (1923), p. 100, pl. xviii, xnj.
Dynasty XVIII, up to the reign of Tuthmosis III, 1551-
1436 BC.
Model jar. Nile s!lt B, sun-dried, but not fired, grey
(gley 5Y 5h). Thrown, left untrimmed.
From Hu, grave Y28. Fitzwilliam E.105.1899. Gift of
Egypt Exploration Fund. H: 54 em. D: 5.1 em.
Since it has not been fired, the fabric of this vase is very
soft, and handling has distorted the shape, making it
even more asymmetrical.
The excavator's notes show that Y 28 was an XVIII
Dynasty tomb containing at least three burials and pot-
tery which included Petrie, Diospolis Parva, pl. xxxv, 110.
Naqada II (middle), c. 4000-3000 BC.
Small beaker. Nile silt c, dark brown (7.5YR 4l2); low,
uneven firing, covered with grey smoke patches. Entirely
modelled with fingers. Surface has vertical lines of
triangular notches impressed into wet clay with a gouge.
From Matmar, grave 2712. Fitzwilliam .10.1931. Gift
of the British Museum. H: 8.o em. D: 7.8 em.
This simple pot came from a child's grave, and was
perhaps made by the child himself in view of the clumsy
modelling and firing. However, Guy Brunton, the ex-
cavator writing in 1937, described it as showing 'some
alien and more primitive influence', implying that it was
related to the incised wares of the Sudan.
Brunton, Matmar, p. 18, pl. xiii, 2.
Naqada II (late), c. 4000-3000 Be.
Small broad-shouldered vases with horizontal barrel-
lug handles. Nile silt A, black to dark reddish brown (5 YR
3l2). Deliberately fired black by introducing smoke into
kiln. Handmade probably by free modelling in two parts,
body and rim. Base cut to shape, handles applied asym-
metrically. Surface vertically burnished.
Fitzwilliam E.2.1980. Gift of the Friends of the Fitz-
william Museum. H: 99 em. D each pot: 6.6 em.
The colour and the shape imitate vases made of black
basalt which were used, as this one probably was, to
contain cosmetics. The colour is due to soot, created by
smoking fuel, or by the decomposition of carbon material
(organic inclusions) in the paste. Whether the soot was
created in the initial firing by reducing the supply of
oxygen to the kilh, or m a secona.-finng;is uncertain
(Nordstrom, Neolithic and A-Group, p. 45).
A pot of this shape was found at Naqada in grave 684
(Ashnioleah!VfU.Seum 1895.509) and suggests the date
given here.
Cf. Petrie, Corpus, pl. xvii, F44; J. Crowfoot-Payne in
IAEP (forthcoming), Group D, Polished Black Wares.
Middle Kingdom, up to the reign of Sesostris II, 2040-
1897 BC.
Globular jar with quinquefoil mouth. Nile silt B, evenly
fired to high temperature. Thrown in two parts, joined at
shoulder, finger-smoothed from major point to remove
excess clay, rim pinched in with fingers. Red ( 10 R 4/8) slip
applied with brush to outside and interior of rim,
polished. Band of clay applied to cover shoulder join and
pressed with fingertips into a 'pie crust' design.
Probably from Dendera. Fitzwilliam .201.1899 Gift of
Egypt Exploration Fund. H: 10.3 em. D: 11.0 em.
The red core, visible in a small chip in the rim, and the
hardness of this jar indicate that it has been fired to a high
Eggebrecht in Kunstgeschichte, p. 356, fig. 348b.
Naqada III, c. 3000 BC.
Cylinder vase. Nile silt B, surface colour ranges from
purple black to weak red (7.5R 4/4). Fired to the point of
vitrification and collapse. Handmade, turned rim, base
cut with a tool. A V-shaped potmark cut on the base in the
wet clay.
Possibly from Giza. U.C. 17538. H: 21.6 em. D: 12.0 em.
A sudden gust of wind or the careless stoking of fuel
may be the cause of uneven heating in the kiln, and thus
overfiring. At a temperature above 900 oc, vitrification
starts to occur. In Nile silt, the material begins to soften
and melt and glass to form. It is possible that the vitrifica-
tion took place much later as the result of a fire. The effect
on the vessel would be the same.
21, 19 and 20
Naqada III to Dynasty II, c. 3000-2628 BC.
Cylinder jar. Fine marl A, variant 4; even firing. Hand-
made, probably coil-built, rim turned, inside smoothed
with fingers. Exterior coated with self slip, pale yellow
(5 Y 2/3), polished with cloth. String pressed into the wet
clay to produce wavy line on upper body.
From Hierakonpolis, grave 115. Fitzwilliam E.286.1900
(formerly E.P.62). Gift of Egyptian Research Account. H:
22.5 em. D: 10.0 em.
This jar demonstrates how successfully Egyptian pot-
ters could achieve the qualities of stone in their own
medium (Mond and Myers, Cemeteries of Armant, p. 501).
It required careful manipulating of the surface to remove
all tool and finger marks, and steady, even firing produc-
ing a uniform colour. Nordstrom (Neolithic and A-Group,
pp. 66-7) suggests that a wash of calcium compounds
may have been applied as an alternative to a slip of the
body material.
These jars were used for storage of substances such as
cheese or ointment which needed to be kept cool. For the
source of the wavy line decoration, see 257-60.
Cf. Petrie, Tarkhan, r, pp. 2-3, pl. xlix, 49d; II, pl. xxviii,
46j; for grave 115, Quibell and Green, Hierakonpolis, II, pl.
lxix, 4; Adams, Hierakonpolis, p. 49, no. 261, pl. 34; id.,
Supplement, p. 90.
Fitzwilliam E.P.7. H: 18.3 em. D: 12.5 em.
The decorative burnishing, like So, which is in the same
fabric, is characteristic of this period. The shape derives
from flasks made of leather - there is an actual example
from Beni Hasan, grave 183 (Garstang, Burial Customs,
fig. 128, c) and a limestone relief from a tomb of Dynasty
Vat Saqqara showing a thirsty harvester lifting one to his
lips (Brunner-Traut, Die Alten Agypter, p. 91, 26).
Cf. J. Crowfoot-Payne in IAEP (forthcoming), Group
D, Hard Pink Polished Wares; D. Arnold in Lexikon der
Agyptologie, Gefasse.
First Intermediate period, 2134-2040 BC.
Squat jar. Fine marl A, variant 3, pale yellow (5Y 8/4).
Thrown, excess clay trimmed from base with knife.
From Dendera, grave 271. Fitzwilliam E.251.1899 Gift
of Egypt Exploration Fund. H: 14.8 em. D: 12.2 em.
Petrie, Dendereh, pl. xviii, 187; Eggebrecht in Kunst-
geschichte, p. 355, fig. 346b.
Second Intermediate period (early), c. 1650-1551 BC.
Bag-shaped jar with narrow ring foot. Gritty marl B,
pale yellow (5Y 7/3). Thrown, finished on the wheel,
handmade ring foot applied to base. Rim impressed by
the fingers with 'pie crust' motif. Group of six zigzag lines
with six straight lines on either sideincised in wet clay
with pointed tool while vessel still on the wheel.
From Hu, grave Y 343 Fitzwilliam E.161.1902. Gift of
Egypt Exploration Fund. H: 11.9 em. D: 10.3 em.
This is one of the vessels that help to pinpoint the date
---of-the application of new techniques in the use ofrt.,.h--,e___ _
Dynasties I-III, 3000-2628 Be.
Globular flask. Fine marl A, variant 1. Handmade (in-
terior invisible), turned rim, joined to neck, base cut to
shape. Regular, vertical burnishing strokes on surface,
which is red (2.5YR 5/6).
wheel. The lower body of the jar was finished on the
wheel, but the ring base was made separately following
the traditional method of the Old and Middle kingdoms
(D. Arnold, MDAIK, 32 (1976), p. 31, fig. 18). Turning the
pot on the wheel while decorating it was also an innova-
tion and, moreover, suggests that the potter had both
hands free to work, i.e. that he had already acquired the
assistant who appears in the tomb paintings of the early
XVIII Dynasty turning the wheel. The only other object
from grave Y343 known to me is an alabaster vase in
Glasgow; the excavator's notes unfortunately do not sur-
vive. The shape, decoration and fabric, however, date the
jar unequivocally to the early Second Intermediate
Decoration was generally carried out before a pot was
fired, when it was freshly shaped or, more often, when
the surface had dried until it was leather hard. The fol-
lowing techniques were used, employing a variety of
tools, the most popular being the potter's fingers and
nails: incision and impression, applied and raised relief,
coating with a slip or wash, painting (both monochrome
and polychr6me). Frequently a combination of decorative
techniques was used. For example, incised patterns were
filled with coloured pigment, or motifs modelled in relief
were then painted; different techniques were used, for
very wide, although the same categories remain through-
out: geometric patterns, floral designs, animal and
human figures- with a notable exception in some of the
scenes on Naqada II pottery (see 33), which may be re-
cords of particular events. Variety appears in the chang-
ing interpretation of the motifs under the influence of
different pottery-making techniques, materials, decora-
tive techniques and shapes.
separate elements in the design, for example 52, where The particular character of this ornament up to the inven-
the surface has an incised linear motif and the attributes tion of the wheel in Dynasty V was that it covered the
of the goddess Hathor are attached to the surface in whole vessel surfaces. Sometimes two techniques were
applied relief. used together (25) where panels of burnishing were set
There is a division among decorated vessels which is so against a zone with incised pattern. It is no accident that
basic that it is hard to believe that vessels of both kinds the finest examples of these techniques are the product of
could have been made by the same potter. In the first pre-wheel potters. They were most inventive in manipu-
group are zoomorphic and anthropomorphic v s s ~ l s lating vessel surfaces. With the introduction of throwing,
which require a sculptural technique and in which the the potter's contact with his material was changed; per-
original vessel shape has become subordinated in favom haps one might say it became less intimate. Pottery con-
of an identity as an object. In the second group, to which struction became faster, more routine, and this initially
the majority of vessels belong, only the vessel surface has naturally affected decoration (seep. 51).
been treated or manipulated to provide decoration. In Incised or impressed white-filled ornament has a much
this category it is possible to observe changes in the part longer tradition in Nubia than in Egypt, and for this
of the vessel which the potter chose to ornament. reason has been considered to show Nubian influence---
In the Predynastic period decoration of the whole sur- wherever and whenever it occurs. However, to prove
face is most usuai,whereas-later,visibility became a that point,-the-decoration-needs-to occur-in conjunction
criterion, so that in the case of large jars only the shoulder with other Nubian traits, such as hand manufacture or
and neck, and in the open forms, only the rim were dung-tempered Nile silt fabrics. A puzzling group, 23-4,
decorated: 'fhe-use of the whole surface-forde-coration---i:sfourrdirr N aqada II gravesirrEgypta.n-d-Nubia-;-which
combined with the exploitation of the vessel shape in share a few motifs (even a complicated rim-top decora-
pattern design remains a characteristic of Nubian pottery tion) with local Nubian wares but in fabric and technique
of all periods (193-208). The choiee of motifs is naturally belong in the Egyptian tradition.
From Beni Hasan, grave 868. Ashmolean E.4153- Gift of
Beni Hasan Excavation Committee. H: 10.3 em. D: 8.5 em.
Cf. Petrie, Qurneh, pl. xx, 596; for Beni Hasan grave 868
alone, Garstang, Burial Customs, p. 242.
Dynasties XI-XII, to end of reign of Sesostris II, 2040-1878
Slender shouldered jars. Nile silt c, reddish yellow
(5YR 6/6), originally covered with red wash. Thrown,
from major point modelled with fingers. Incised lines on
neck possibly to support a carrying rope.
From Beni Hasan, grave 365. a. Fitzwilliam E.202.1903.
H: 22.7cm. D: 10.1 em. b. E.210.1903. H: 25.1 em. D: 11.0
em. Gift of Beni Hasan Excavation Committee.
These two water jars of the Lower Egyptian type are
very much alike, and their common fabric, technique and
provenance indicate that they were made in the same
workshop, possibly even by the same potter. They differ
considerably, however, in their dimensions, and as a
result have quite different proportions. In view of their
common characteristics, one can say that this is probably
due to no more than that the potter broke off a slightly
larger lump of clay to make the second jar. This highlights
the caution with which the archaeologist has to approach
the shape classification of such jars. They are undoubt-
edly the same 'shape' although they do not have the same
measurements. The vertical mark on b is not a deliberate
potmark but a slip of the potter's fingernail.
Garstang, Burial Customs, pl. xiii, 25.
Dynasties XI-XII, to end of reign of Sesostris II, 2040-18
silt c, 5/6). Handmade, the strip of clay
formmg the sides fitted on to a prepared, finger-modelled
From Beni Hasan, grave 427. Fitzwilliam E.2o8.1903.
Gift of Beni Hasan Excavation Committee. H: 2.3 em. D:
18.6 em.
The plate is exceptionally crudely made, in the Beni
Hasan 'style'. No attempt has been made to smooth out
the finger marks, and it became warped in firing.
Dynasties XI-XII, to end of reign of Sesostris II, 2134-
1878 BC.
Tubular stand, with applied figure of a naked woman.
Nile siltc, brown (7.5YR5/4) with a few traces of red wash
on the figure. Thrown in two parts, joined just below rim,
surface scratched to remove excess clay. Figure modelled
with fingers, details incised. Except for a small section,
almost all of the rim is now missing.
From Beni Hasan. Fitzwilliam E.18o.1go2. Gift of Beni
..,san Excavation Committee. H: 35-9 em. D_:_J;J_._8_cm_._____ _
110 and 111
This tall stand was intended to support a dish or plate,
serving the function of our old-fashioned cakestands. It is
in the unmistakable Beni Hasan style, and the applied
figure of a woman cannot be paralleled except from that
site. The figure itself, with its emphatic genitalia, relates
to statuettes in a variety of materials and techniques -
some even cruder than this - found in both graves and
settlements of this time. They have been euphemistically
called' dolls', but their sexual significance is now acknow-
ledged (240, 241). They may also have been charms to
make or keep a woman fertile.
Garstang, Burial Customs, fig. 205; G. D. Hornblowerin
JEA 15 (1929), p. 41.
Middle Kingdom, to end of reign of Sesostris II, 2040-
1878 BC.
Painted wood, linen and clay.
From Beni Hasan, tomb 366. Fitzwilliam E.71d.1903.
Gift of Beni Hasan Excavation Committee. H: 18.5 em. D:
29.7 em. L: 41.4 em.
The model shows women grinding and sifting flour, a
man mixing the dough with a pestle and mortar, and a
woman tending a pile of loaves baking in their moulds
(116). Another group are making beer, using a method
still pradised in Egypt to produce beer, in Arabic appro-
priately called buzeh. Loaves of bread are passed through
a sieve into huge pottery vats and date essence and large
amounts of water are added. The vats are covered and the
contents left to ferment. Finally, the beer is decanted into
large jars, which are sealed with a mud stopper. The
model shows men bringing water, a man sieving the
bread and the sealed beer jar.
Bread and beer are invariably mentioned in the offering
formula (114) recited for the dead, and denote all food. In
an economy without money, all payments were made in
kind, so wages were often calculated in quantities of beer
and bread. By placing a model of his servants brewing
and baking for him in his tomb, the deceased could by
magic guarantee for himself an eternal supply of life's
necessities, and we in turn are given a glimpse of a group
of ordinary Egyptians at work, people who only rarely
appear in the written and archaeological records of their
Garstang, Burial Customs, pp. 127-8, fig. 124; for beer-
making, W. Helck, Das Bier bei den a/ten Agyptern (Berlin,
Dynasty XII, reign of Ammenemes Ill, 1844-1797 Be.
Painted limestone funerary stela of Sent, daughter of
Fitzwilliam E.SS.14. H: 22.2 em. D: 20.3 em.
This stela was probably set up in a small chapel near
Sent's tomb, to encourage visitors to leave offerings orat
least to recite the formula for her benefit. Although it does
not come from Beni Hasan, it is typical of a modest private
funerary monument of that time and place. The formula
is an abbreviated version of the one common in the
Middle Kingdom, and consists of a request for 'thou-
. sands of bread and beer, oxen and fowl-for the deceased
Sent, born of Hepy' (mother). Sent is shown wearing a
fine linen dress with broad shoulder straps, ornamented
with alternate black and red (much-faded) zigzags, a heavy
wig and full complement of jewellery- necklace, armlets
and anklets. She stands sniffing a]otU:s, an attitude wl:i.icn--
suggested to the and
and before her is a table piled high with food offerings.
There are vegetables painted black- lettuce, cucumber,
spring onions; bread and C(lkes- also black; and
joints of meat including the leg of an ox. Underneath the
table are two sealed wine or beer jars ( cf. 133), painted red
with a black stripe across the shoulder. Black stripes
237 front
Nile silt c, brown (7.5YR 5/4). Handmade, modelled
with the fingers, arm applied, base trimmed with a knife,
details incised. Exterior covered with thin red (loR 5/6)
wash. Hole pierced in base with a stick before firing.
From Beni Hasan, grave 187. Fitzwilliam E. 35.1903. Gift
of Beni Hasan Excavation Committee. H: 14.7 em. D: 79
This remarkably crude figure (cf. 112) is a pottery ver-
sion of a figure of a servant grinding corn (113). Models of
servants engaged in preparing bread or other basic foods
were placed in tombs to guarantee the deceased's future
supply. The activity, not the person engaged in it, was
the potter's concern. The lower part has been trimmed so
as to suggest that the figure originally fitted into a recep-
tacle of some kind, and the hole in the base may be
connected with such a purpose.
Garstang, Burial Customs, p. 219; cf. ibid. pl. xi, fig. 204,
Dynasty VI, 2325-2150 Be.
Squatting man presenting the head of an ox. Nile silt B,
red (2.5YR 5/6). Handmade, modelled with fingers and
trimmed with knife.
Fitzwilliam E.186.1939. Gift of G. D. Hornblower. H:
13.2 em. D: 79 em.
The potter has taken care to impart some individuality
to this servant figure, which like 236 was intended to
237 back
ensure a continuous supply of food offerings for the
dead. The head of an ox represents meat offerings. The
squatting man has hollow cheeks and a small pointed
beard, and his ribcage and vertebrae are clearly deline-
ated. The purpose may have been to suggest an old man,
or perhaps, taking into account similar figures, a desert
nomad emaciated by his harsh life. The pointed beard
encourages the idea that a foreigner is represented. There
is a close parallel to this figure in the Royal Scottish
Museum (1954.10; I am to Edward Brovarski for
the reference and for notice of a wooden figure in the
Boston Museum of Fine Arts) in which the squatting man
carries the head of an ox on his back. Like the Fitzwilliam
example, it has no provenance. The pose of both figurines
is unusual, perhaps unique, and this is the main reason
for a lingering doubt in the writer's mind of their authen-
Cf. a wooden figure in Berlin Museum (22754),
Brunner-Traut, Die Alten Agypter, pl. 78.
First Intermediate period, 2134-2040 Be.
Nile silt c, brown (7.5YR 5/4). Handmade, modelled
with fingers, some elements applied to surface. Interior
covered with thick weak red (7.5R 5/4) slip.
Fitzwilliam E.15.1950. Given by the family of F. W.
Green. H: 10.7 em. D: 28.0 em. L: 41.0 em.
This object appears to be a curious combination of a
tray with model food- two oxen bound ready for butcher-
ing, a cucumber, a cos lettuce, three loaves (two round
and one oval), a dish of figs and a leg of meat can be
recognised- and a house. The house has one storey and
an open staircase to the roof, on which there is a canopy.
The ground floor has an open portico supported by two
pillars: there is a bench inside and another against the
wall of the courtyard. Such trays evolved as substitutes
for stone offering-tables which were carved with images
of food and held troughs for water. The tables may have
suggested the courtyards of houses, which also held
water tanks and storage space for food, and this idea may
have been the starting point for the evolution of the trays.
The trays were placed at the mouth of tomb shafts and
provided both perpetual offerings and a dwelling place
for the deceased's soul. They offer us a glimpse of living
conditions not unlike those of a modern Egyptian village.
Food preparation takes place in the open, in the court-
yard, which is walled for shade and protection from the
wind, not privacy, or on the roof under an awning. The
house has no windows but an open portico, and is very.
sparsely furnished.
Cf. Petrie, Gizeh, pp. 14-16, pl. xv, 106.
Dynasty XII, up to reign of Sesostris II, 1991-1897 Be.
Nile silt c, red (lOR 4/6). Handmade, modelled with
fingers and tools.
From Rife h. Fitzwilliam E 47.1907. Gift of British School
most elaborate form. The house has developed at the
expense of the courtyard, though this still contains all the
necessary food offerings - triangular and circular loaves
of bread, a cos lettuce, and the head of an ox. The house
has two storeys with the usual open staircase to the roof,
but the potter has provided details of its internal struc-
ture, a dividing wall on the ground floor and a roof-
supporting beam on the first. He presumably did this for
his own satisfaction, for the details are almost invisible
from outside.
Petrie, Gizeh, p. 18, pl. xviiiA.
Dynasty XII to Second Intermediate period, 1991-1551
Fine marlA, variant 3, pale yellow (5Y8/3). Handmade,
arms applied. Details of body in applied and incised
Fitzwilliam E.188.1939. Gift of G. D. Hornblower. H:
12.2 em. D: 43 em.
These figures have in the past often been described as
'dolls', but their sexual purpose is unmistakable. The
woman is shown naked except for a bead girdle; she
wears an elaborate tripartite hairstyle fashionable in the
Middle Kingdom and a necklace and has tattoos on her
navel and buttocks. Her nose is suggested, but otherwise
no facial features are marked, and she has no feet.
The figure appears carelessly made, but the steatopy-
gous buttocks are skilfully modelled. The lack of attention
to minor features such as the face and feet is deliberate.
of Archaeology in Egypt. H: 28.5 em. D: 33.0 ciiLL_ ___ _
38.5 em.
The combination of dwelling for the deceased's soul
and offering table has in this example (cf. 238) achieved its
The figure belongs to a large class - some much more
elaborate- made of painted wood, stone or faience, and
some much cruder, mere lumps of clay scratched to indi-
cate breasts and genitalia. They were made with the same
intention as the models of food, the servant figures, and
the model houses that, animated by magic, they might
serve the needs of the deceased in the next world.
Since they are not found exclusively in men's graves,
they may during the roughly 400 years in which they are
found have become a purely conventional part of the
equipment for burial. They may also have served women
as emblems of fertility. Some of their characteristics, such
as tattooing, steatopygous figure and rudimentary arms
and legs, reappear later in perfume flasks of the XVIII
Dynasty representing Nubian women. (Cf. Randall-
Maclver and Mace, El Amrah, pl. L, o8.)
G. D. Hornblower, in JEA 15 (1929), pl. ix, 1-2; cf.
Petrie, Diospolis Parva, pl. xxvi; D. Downes, The Excava-
tions at Esna, 1905-1906 (Warminster, 1974), pp. 86-8.
Second Intermediate period to early Dynasty XVIII, 165o-
1500 BC.
Nile silt B, light reddish yellow (5YR 6/4). Handmade,
arms applied. Details of body in applied and incised
Fitzwilliam E.1.1981. Bequest of Miss P. M. Cook;
formerly Professor A. B. Cook collection. H: 17.5 em. D:
This figurine served the same purpose as 240. The hair
style was originally very elaborate: pieces of string (re-
presenting plaits) threaded with blobs of clay were sus-
pended from holes in the disc-shaped head. This feature
and the holes in the earlobes for earrings, which were
introduced during Dynasty XII, indicate that the date
may be a little later than 240.
Cf. Wainwright, Balabish, pl. xix, B 154; D. Downes,
The Excavations at Esna 1905-1906 (Warminster, 1974),
pp. 86-8.
As containers for products traded by barter in the Nile
valley and far beyoi!d it, pottery became distributed far
from its place of manufacture. Foreign pottery coming to
the Nile valley influenced the output of Egyptian and
Sudanese potters and vice versa, both directly by en-
couraging imitation and generally by changing demand-
helping to create fashions. In the past the extent of inter-
national trade was often underestimated, and it was too
readily assumed that the presence of foreign pottery im-
plied the existence of a colony. Pendlebury for example
was convinced that a community of Myceneans must
have lived at Amarna to account for the quantity of Myce-
nean pottery found there. Where. the foreign pottery
types are restricted- as is usually the case- to storage jars
or luxury items such as perfume flasks - and table-ware
and cooking pottery are not present - trade is the most
likely .explanation for its presence.
Wine was the most important commodity in internal
Nile valley commerce, since its manufacture was limited
to certain areas - principally the Delta and oases. One
would like to know more about the source of 'the wine
from the south' enjoyed by the Lady Nodjmet (242)! The
filling and sealing of jars was a skilled affair. One of the
wine jars-found in the tomb ofTutankhamun had cracked
through internal pressure. It has been suggested that the
heat of the tomb stimulated fermentation. Many wine jars
were reused, so analyses of contents - in itself very dif-
ficult because of the chemieal changes which have taken
The foreign pottery and its contents may have been
destined in the first place for the royal storerooms, but
they didn't stay there. At Amarna for example a scatter of
Mycenaean sherds was found all over the city's central
area in slums as well as in the villas of the wealthy. At
Sidmant in a group of 38 modest graves of the mid XVIII
to early XIX Dynasty (c. 145o-1300 Be) belonging to the
minor official class, about one-third of the burials con-
tained imported pottery from Syria and Cyprus (256, 255,
250) (Petrie and Brunton, Sedment, n, pl. lxiii). Officially,
as payment for services, commodities must have passed
rapidly from the palace via the households of high of-
ficials to the general populace, but there was probably
also a direct exchange between foreigners and Egyptians
- the harbour scene from the tomb of Nebamun shows
small booths set up along the quayside.
The demand for incense, aromatic oils and resins im-
ported from the Levant was very great. To be sweet-
smelling was an important attribute of beauty - at ban-
quets men and women wore scented cakes of wax on
their wigs. The presence of a god was announced by his
sweet smell. Scented oils and ointments were a vital
ingredient in mummification and in burial equipment.
This characteristic of Egyptian manners existed even in
Predynastic times, and it is likely that the same need
stimulated the early trade with Palestine.
place since the deposition of the jar- have not yet pro- 242 DELTA WINE
vided much useful information. FOR THE LADY NODJMET
Exchange of goods between regions of Egypt was al-. Late Dynasty XVIII-Dynasty XIX, c. 134o-1300 BC.
ways to a greater or lesser extent controlled by royal Slender shouldered jar with matching lid. Nile silt c,
officials (245), and in international trade royal control was uneven firing. Thrown in four sections, joined at base of
even tighter. In the written records of Egypt all foreign neck, middle of body and top of foot. Exterior vessel and
goods brought to the king were described as tribute, but lid covered with pink (7.5YR 7/4) slip applied with brush.
in reality an exchange took place, as the Amarna letters, Painted decoration in blue with dark red outlines consist-
an archive of letters to Pharaoh from the rulers of Ana- ing of plain bands alternating with pendant leaf and
-tolia, Syria and Palestine, show. Great officials such as lotus bands. Hieroglyphic inscription in black around-
Nebamun, mayor of Thebes and overseer of the granary shoulder.
of Amun British Museum-59774-:-Formerly Macgregor collection.
Be), received the goods in the king's place. Among the H excluding lid: 595 em. D: 20.8 em. Lid: H: 22.0 em. D:
scenes depicting his official duties painted on the walls of 18.3 em.
--his tomb is one-showing the arrival of a Syrian-bua:t;-Ure--'fhe-irrs-cription reads
clearly Syrian sailors unloading her, and the merchant in deceased] Nodjmet'. The lady was well provided with
charge presenting himself to an Egyptian official on the wine for the next-world. This vase belongs to a set of at
quayside. leastfour, two containing Delta wine and two containing
wine from the south. Wallis, in his catalogue ofpartofthe
Macgregor collection written in 1898, described these
vases as 'the most important decorated Egyp.tian un-
glazed vases yet discovered'. This one was bought in 1922
at the Macgregor sale for 145.
The wine may have been the Ancient Egyptian equiva-
lent of a 'Beaujolais Villages'. Vintage wines seem to have
been the prerogative of the king - as this one of King
Tutankhamun, 'Year 5 Sweet wine of the House of Aton
of the Western River. Chief vintner Nakht' suggests.
Detailed labels of this type are rare for wine destined for
private persons.
British Museum Quarterly 5 (1930-1), p. 50, pl. xxii, b;
Sotheby's sale catalogue, 26 June to 6 July 1922, no. 1733,
pl. li, there incorrectly captioned '1736'; Ancient Egyptian
Art (Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, 1922), p. 64, pl.
xxxv; Wallis, Ceramic Art 1898, p. 34, pl. xv; L. H. Lesko,
King Tut's Wine Cellar (Berkeley, 1977), p. 30.
5th-6th century AD.
Broad amphora with vertical handles. Marl clay, yellow
(2.5Y 7/4) and red (2.5YR 5/8) in section (Adams u3,
formerly Christian Nubian Ware 23). Thrown in at least
two parts, joined at base of neck, handles applied, surface
ribbed. Inscription in red ink in cursive Greek on shoul-
der and under handle.
From Nubia, Firka, tomb A 12. Ashmolean 1935-478. H:
435 em. D: 28.9 em.
This amphora has such a distinctive form and fabric
that it was probably made in a single production centre,
perhaps Abu Mena (see :188), the great monastic settle-
mentin the western Delta (J. Gascou in Bulletin de Liaison 3
(1978), p. 27). It was a wine container, and if intended for
a particular Delta wine, then it was one of the most widely
enjoyed in the Byzantine world. The amphorae are found
in the Nile valley from Alexandria to the Sudan, in Rome,
Spain, North Africa, Cyprus, Palestine, Yugoslavia and
Turkey, in contexts ranging from the 4th to the 7th cen-
tury AD.
The inscriptions on the shoulder in this appropriately
named 'acrobatic script' are extremely difficult to read but
seem to consist of the potter's name, the 'batch' number
and the capacity of the vessel. The s h p ~ shows a slight
evolution over the period of their use, and on the basis of
the material from Kellia (Egloff, Kellia, pp. 109-43, pl. 58,
2, type 169), the Firka amphora is late in the series. My
observations of the amphorae from Saqqara confirm this.
Their dating, because of the amphorae's wide distribu-
tion, is of crucial importance - they are used for instance
by Adams as a chronological peg in assigning absolute
dates to his pottery sequence for Christian Nubia. An
example was found in the royal burials at Ballana and
Qustul (p. 104) and was dated by the handwriting of the
inscription to the sth-6th century AD (W. Emery and L.
Kirwan, The Royal Tombs of Ballana and Qustul (Cairo,
1938), p. 387, ware D, pp. 388-9, type 6, pl. iii, type 6).
This amphora comes from the burial mound of a Ballana
chieftain at Firka, and the excavator dated the burial by its
presence. It is an intriguing reversal of fate that the name
of the potter who made it may be known to us, but the
chieftain, rich and powerful enough to have wine from
Egypt 1,000 miles awa:y for his burial, remains anony-
L. Kirwan, The Oxford University Excavations at Firka
(London, 1939), pl. 22, fig. 4; id. in JEA 21 (1935),
pp. 194-5, fig. 2, top left; R. J. Charleston, Roman Pottery
(London, 1931), p. 39, fig. 89; cf. Adams in Kush 10 (1962),
pp. 275, 261, p3; id. in Kush 14 (1966), p. 280.
2 44
From Amarna. Ashmolean 1927.2114. Gift of Egypt
Exploration Society. H: 60.4 em. D: 18.6 em.
Tutankhamun' s tomb equipment included vintage (see
242) Egyptian wines in jars like this one. Some confusion
has arisen because the elegant shape was thought to be
Syrian (H. Carter, The Tomb ofTutankhamun, III (London,
1933), p. 149, pl. 1, c) and it was assumed that the vases
were imported originally full of Syrian wine (L. Lesko,
. King Tut's Wine Cellar (Berkeley, 1977), p. 23). All the wine
jars of this type known to me are made like this one of an
Egyptian marl clay, so there is no reason to suppose they
ever contained anything other than Egyptian wine.
The shape may have been inspired by imported vessels
244 WINE FOR THE ROYAL CITY -it was certainly much admired, and versions exist in
OF EL-AMARNA glass and alabaster.
Ammna period,_1364-1347 BC. This jar was found during British excavations at the ---
Broad shouldered jug with a tall neck. Limestone- new capital founded by Akhenaten at el-Amarna (p. 72).
tempered marl clay D,-uneven-su-r-faee-eeleur-paleyellow Ibid. p. 27; cf. Petrie and Brunton, Sedment, n, pl. lxii,
(5 Y 7/3) to pink. Thrown in at least two parts, joined at 115; Petrie, Kahun, pl. xxi, 43; J. Bourriau in Egypt's Golden
base of neck, handle applied. Thick self slip applied to Age: The Art of Living in the New Kingdom (Boston, forth-
--surface-with br-ush-and burnished. Painted decoratiorrin--com1ng)-. ---
black and blue consisting of bands of vertical strokes and
dots above a design, in black over red outlines, of lotus
flowers, leaves and buds. Restored from sherds.

Minat Terkait