Jar with Zigzag Panels
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
Writing first appeared in Egypt about 3200 B.C.E. Many scholars have long believed that writing came to Egypt from western Asia. Inscribed objects recently excavated at Abydos in Upper Egypt may predate extensive contact between Egypt and the Near East, which would mean that writing developed in both places independently. Many signs and pictures that evolved into writing initially served decorative purposes. The zigzag lines on the sides of this jar, made at least a century before writing began, later became the hieroglyph for “water.”
ca. 3500-3300 B.C.E.
Predynastic Period, Naqada II Period
6 3/8 x greatest diam. 5 5/16 in. (16.2 x 13.5 cm) (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Ovoid vase of buff pottery, with two broad sting-hole handles. Small flattened base. Short concave neck, slightly offset from shoulder. Straight, rather wide mouth. Rather broad lip, with flattened, slightly sloping upperside, bevelled and slightly rolled-back underside, sharply protruding over neck. Decorated in reddish-brown painting with six panels of nearly equal breadth, filled with horizontal “water-lines” from neck to base; handles included; on base a regular spiral; on lip dense radiating lines. Thick walls. Regular piece.
Condition: Lip corroded. On one side, badly corroded below neck. For the rest, good. Very slightly efflorescence.
Jar with Zigzag Panels, ca. 3500-3300 B.C.E. Clay, pigment, 6 3/8 x greatest diam. 5 5/16 in. (16.2 x 13.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 09.889.402. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.09.889.402_NegA_print_bw.jpg)
. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
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I'm curious about the jar with zig zag panels.
This pot is from the Predynastic Period in Ancient Egypt. It predates written language and as such scholars have to infer a lot the the meaning and possible use. They believe the zig zag may have represented water since the later depictions of water include zig-zags.