Situla with floral decoration

New Kingdom, Ramesside

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 124

Wine was a coveted drink starting in Egypt’s earliest days, though wine services do not have a long history there, as strainers were not found before the New Kingdom. The importance of wine grew during that period, as intoxicating drinks played a prominent role in festivals and in communal celebrations. When associated with Bastet and other feline goddesses, these drinks helped partakers emulate the drunkenness that brought about the goddesses’ pacification.

Such practices probably occurred in festivals for Bastet in Tell Basta, where these vessels were found. The vessels were buried in two caches close to the temple, along with silver and gold jewelry, ingots, and lesser objects. Rare in antiquity, most silver and gold vessels were later melted down and reused for new projects. The Tell Basta hoards are thus exceptional finds.

Situlae formed part of wine-drinking sets, apparently used for sipping wine. This electrum example is decorated with olive leaves around the neck, and a lotus calyx embracing the base.

Situla with floral decoration, Electrum

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