Cylinder jar - ROM2018_16145_106


Cylinder jar

Medium:Travertine (Egyptian alabaster)
Geography: Egypt
Date: c. 3100-2686 BC
Period: 1st-2nd Dynasty, Early Dynastic Period
26.3 x 17.8 cm
Object number: 909.80.97
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt

Cylindrical jars of travertine are among the most common types of stone vessels found in early dynastic elite and royal graves.  While such jars are often found intact, this example has been extensively repaired.  Cylinder jars were manufactured by first creating a solid cylinder of travertine by cutting and polishing, and then by carefully drilling out the inside.  Some examples, such as this elegant jar with tapering sides, are superb works of art, and others seem quickly made for purely funerary use.  They exist both as full-size jars like this one, and in miniature form.

The original purpose of such vessels may have been to store oils.  Ancient Egyptians used fragrant oils in religious context to anoint statues and sacred objects, as well as in daily cosmetic use and in preparation of the dead for burial. By providing many such vessels for the dead, the ancient Egyptians may have been ensuring that the deceased could continue to take part in religious activities in the next world, and to be well-groomed while they did so.  Some jars may be left-overs from the funeral and embalming.

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