Bowl with Human Feet

Period: Predynastic, Late Naqada l–Naqada II

Date: ca. 3900–3650 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt

Medium: Pottery (red polished ware)

Dimensions: diam. 13.2 x W. 13.7 x D. 9.8 cm (5 3/16 x 5 3/8 x 3 7/8 in.)

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1910

Accession Number: 10.176.113


In the Predynastic Period, potters created a wide variety of ceramic vessels. One unusual type is a bowl with supports shaped like human feet. This simple, round bowl, tipped slightly forward as if to offer its contents, has two such feet solidly attached to its underside. Made from Nile clay, the bowl has a smoothed, slipped, and polished surface, giving it a light sheen. The bowl standing on feet is very similar in form to the Egyptian hieroglyph meaning "to bring." Since none of the known bowls of this type comes from a well-understood context, archaeologists cannot interpret their original use. Perhaps vessels like this were placed above a tomb to present offerings from the living to the deceased, a practice that was an established part of funerary ritual in pharaonic Egypt. Alternatively, they may have held offerings to a deity in his shrine.