Cylindrical jar - ROM2018_16165_49


Cylindrical jar

Medium:Travertine (Egyptian alabaster)
Geography: Egypt
Date: c. 3100-2686 BC
Period: 1st-2nd Dynasty, Early Dynastic Period
38.8 x 11.5 cm
Object number: 909.80.114
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.  Such jars are often found intact, and this example has suffered only minor damage.  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 tall elegant jar with its vertical scalloped veining, are works of art, while others seem quickly made for purely funerary use.  Cylinder jars 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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