Jug Decorated with Dolphins and Birds

Middle Kingdom or Second Intermediate Period

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 111

No exact parallel to this magnificent vessel has yet been found anywhere. The presence of dolphins and the freedom with which all the animals move around the vessel body have suggested influences from the Aegean to some scholars. The general shape and double handle, however, are Levantine, and a possible source location for the clay has been identified in southern Canaan, while the technique of decoration is similar to, but not the same as, the one used on the "Tell el-Jahudiyeh" pottery.

Three dolphins move around the foot of the jug, with three large birds (possibly geese) above each of them; a smaller bird is tucked below the handle. Is this perhaps an image of the Levantine coast, with dolphins in the water and migratory geese coming to rest on the beach? A Dynasty 13 date is suggested by other objects found in the same tomb shaft.

Jug Decorated with Dolphins and Birds, Pottery, manganese black, gypsum fill

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