Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Large storage jar with floral decoration

Ptolemaic Period
late 3rd–2nd century B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Asasif, Birabi, grave 36, MMA excavations, 1912–13
Pottery, paint
H. 62 cm (24 7/16 in.); Diam. 48 cm (18 7/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1913
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 134
This large jar typifies a type of painted floral decoration characteristic of the Late Period into the Ptolemaic Period at Thebes. The bowl (13.180.34b) was used base downward as a lid in the mouth of the jar. The large jars usually held solid funerary offerings, such as dates, grain and various kinds of seeds, or, alternatively, mummification materials; analysis indicates the bowl originally contained some thick liquid with containing bovine cellulose, perhaps a beef broth or pudding?

The jar was found by the Museum's Egyptian Expedition in an area of brick-vaulted Ptolemaic tombs over the area of Hatshepsut's Valley Temple. The tombs were partly sunk beneath the ground but the vaults were above ground. At the ground entrance there would be a small vestibule or open entrance area. Sometimes vessels were found in twosomes or groups at he entrance; this particular example was found beside a second standing in soil partly below the level of an adjacent stone floor, but any tomb superstructure and the actual burial were missing.

Link to a blog about Ptolemaic Art at The Met
Nile and Newcomers: A Fresh Installation of Egyptian Ptolemaic Art
Museum Excavations, 1912-13. Acquired in the division of finds.

Schreiber, Gábor 2003. Late Dynastic and Ptolemaic Painted Pottery from Thebes (4th-2nd cetury BC). Budapest, passim, no. 214, and pl. 126.

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