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Hollow cylinder decorated with rams and a lion - ROM2011_11859_1

ROM2011_11859_1

Hollow cylinder decorated with rams and a lion

Geography: Excavated by Dr. John Garstang at Meroe, Sudan, 1909-1910
Date: c. 300 BC-350 AD
Medium: Glazed composition (faience)
Dimensions:
36.8 x 8.9 x 44.5 cm
Credit Line: Gift of Sir Robert Mond (University of Liverpool Excavations Committee for the Garstang Excavations at Meroe, Sudan, 1909-1913)
Object number: 921.4.1
On view
Current Location:Galleries of Africa: Nubia
DescriptionA large thin-walled faience cylinder from British archaeologist John Garstang's excavations at Meroe. Its decoration depicts three rams, each representing a different form of the god Amani (Amun), and a lion, the sacred animal of the Meroitic gods Apedemak and Mahes. The function of such cylinders has been much debated. Garstang called them "glazed columns." Steffen Wenig suggested hollow cylinders such as this may have served as column caps for wooden  posts.  Inge Hofmann has suggested that such cylinders served as a decorated bases for the wooden posts of a light, tent-like structure or baldachin. Research by ROM curator Krzysztof Grzymski, however, has suggested that such hollow cylinders are puteals, or protective devices around a well or other water source.  Certainly Garstang's excavations revealed the importance of wells, baths, and a water drainage system at Meroe, with which the large faience cylinders at the site should be associated (S.B. Shubert).