Predynastic Egyptian Diorite Jar

Egyptian · Predynastic, ca. 3100 B.C




H: 17 cm (6.6 in)

Dia: 12 cm (4.7 in)





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Egyptians were skillful stone makers; perfect shapes and high technical execution were hallmarks of the Egyptian style in the Predynastic and throughout the Old Kingdom periods. Later, the harder varieties of stone were no longer used as they were substituted by soft calcite (Egyptian alabaster). This tall bowl with an ovoid body, rounded rim, two tubular handles, and a disk foot is made of diorite, an extremely hard metamorphic rock. It was valued for its hardness and the shining effect obtained by the high polish in sculptures or vases. The abstract design of the light color inclusions produces a highly decorative effect.

Stone vases were considered first-rate luxury objects: they appeared in royal tombs and graves of the elite. These stone vessels were used as containers of cosmetic oils and ointments in daily life; their thick walls helped keep the substances cool. They also played a prominent role in religious ceremonies (as offerings in the temples for the frequent anointment of statues and other cult objects) and funerary rituals (for the preparation of mummies). Therefore, it is not surprising that a significant number of stone vessels were regularly deposited in sanctuaries and funerary settings. Stone vessels served as customary gifts of the pharaoh to members of the ruling family, outstanding officials, and other favorites.


Reassembled; surface weathered; cracks in places; a chip on the wall and a chip on the bottom.


Art market, prior to the 19th century;

Ex- private collection, 19th century;

Milord Antiquites, Quebec;

European private collection, 4 May 2014.


Phoenix Ancient Art 2020 / 39, no. 1


Spring Masters New York, Park Avenue Armory, 2015