Miniature clay vessel from Tomb of Perneb

Old Kingdom
Dynasty 5
reign of Isesi–Unis
ca. 2381–2323 B.C.
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Saqqara, Tomb of Perneb, MMA excavations, 1913–14
H: 5.4 cm (2 1/8 in.); diam: 4.2 cm (1 5/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Edward S. Harkness, 1913
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 100
Almost 400 miniature pottery vessels were found during the clearing of Perneb’s tomb, the majority in the rubble fill of the interior chambers and shafts, with the rest picked up around the outside. It is likely that these came originally from the above-ground chapel, as they would have been used for the offering cult. Since this cult would have been celebrated repeated over time, large numbers of these vessels accumulated around the tomb. Mass-produced, they do have some interior volume and might have held small amounts of liquids or solid foodstuffs such as grain. Perneb could thus have partaken magically in whatever types of food and drink were offered.

The shapes of these jars and bowls bear more resemblance in some cases to earlier vessels than to receptacles in daily use during Perneb's era. This example tapers inward from the lip, then flares again near the foot.
From Saqqara, purchased by the Museum from the Egyptian Government, 1912.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 118.