Double cup - ROM2019_17072_25


Double cup

Medium:Ceramic (black-topped redware)
Geography: Undetermined site, Upper Egypt
Date: c. 4000-3500 BC
Period: Naqada I (Amratian) Period, Predynastic Period
7 x 14.5 x 6.5 cm
Object number: 948.34.65
Credit Line: Gift of Sir Robert Mond
Not on view

Duality was an important concept in pharaonic Egyptian culture, as exemplified by the double kingship of Upper and Lower Egypt. This double vessel suggests that we can see this concept in earlier periods as well. The vessel consists of two cups that are attached with a flat base (11.5 x 5 cm).  Both cups have direct rims with a diameter 6.5 cm. The tops are blackened down to about 4 cm from the rim, whereas the lower portions are a dark red colour, the whole vessel being well burnished. The distinct contrast between the black top and the polished red body of the vessel is achieved by controlling the firing of the vessel. The top of the vessel may have been placed upside down in the ashes of the kiln to deliberately prevent oxidation

Presumably the vessel was made for some sort of offering or ritual that required two portions or types of liquids. It is interesting to note that the colours black and red were used to symbolize the two parts of Egypt. The black land was the fertile Nile Valley with its rich dark soil and the red land was the desert on either side of the valley with its dry sandy soil.

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