Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
Available materials, construction technique, and even social status all played a role in the manufacture of pottery.
Most ancient Egyptian towns had at least one skilled potter who served the entire community. Palaces, estates, and temples employed dozens of craftsmen to fashion luxury and ritual wares.
Potters used two principal materials: alluvial silt (soil deposited by the floodwaters of the Nile) and soft desert shale called marl. Silt contains iron oxides and fires red; marl, rich in calcium carbonate, fires to a buff color. To make both clays more workable, potters added straw, crushed stone, or pulverized pottery.
Potters constructed vessels by hand or on a wheel. Hand building involved shaping the clay manually and with simple tools. To create vessels on a wheel, artisans rotated the clay rapidly on a low, flat turntable and let centrifugal force pull it into shape. Spiral marks, evident on several examples in this case, indicate wheel manufacture.
ca. 1539-1493 B.C.E.
10 9/16 x Diam. 7 1/2 in. (26.8 x 19 cm) (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Esna, Egypt (Ramessid); 1907, excavated by Henri de Morgan for the Brooklyn Museum.
Jar, gourd-shaped. Biconical body with pronounced waist. Bluntly pointed bottom. Short neck, slightly offset from body, sharply offset from flare to splayed lip. Wide, slightly spreading mouth. Light pinkish buff pottery, unpainted. Painted decoration of two bands showing a brown wavy line between two straight red lines, enclosed by two straight brown lines: one around shoulder, one around neck. Was "full of brown cloth", acc. to old catalog card.
Condition: A large shallow chip above waist, another on lip.
Storage Jar, ca. 1539-1493 B.C.E. Clay, pigment, 10 9/16 x Diam. 7 1/2 in. (26.8 x 19 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 07.447.449. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.07.447.449_Neg1010_3_print_bw.jpg)
. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
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Can you explain why so many of the Egyptian storage vessels have rounded bottoms, as opposed to flat ones?
Sure! The rounded bottoms could be stored in several different ways. Many pots like this would be set into stands that would help them to sit on flat ground. In other cases, they could be placed in a hole in a dirt or sand floor, which the more conical bottom would enable! They could also be leant against walls.
Great! Thank you!