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Lot 2, Auction 8/3/2017: Egyptian Large Pre-Dynastic Red Breccia Stone Jar

Egypt, Pre-Dynastic, Naqada III period, ca. 3200 to 3000 BCE. A heavy, bulbous jar with a variegated surface of smooth and rough stone. Two cylindrical, lugged handles project from either side, drilled through with narrow, round perforations, presumably for hanging. The remains of a wide, downturned rim are still visible on on one side. The exterior has been polished to be generally smooth, but the exposed interior gives a better understanding of the rough material that the artisans had to work. Size: 9" L x 8.35" W x 4.75" H (22.9 cm x 21.2 cm x 12.1 cm)

In addition to being quite striking, this jar represents a technological leap forward for the ancient Egyptians. In the early Pre-Dynastic period, artisans hollowed out hard stone vessels using hand-held stone borers and abrasive desert sand. Then, during the Naqada II period (ca. 3600 to 3200 BCE), the invention of copper tubes used to drill very hard stones (in conjunction with sand as an abrasive), allowed people to drill finer forms - like, for example, these lugged handles. However, copper drills only allowed artisans to drill cylindrical items, and so the hollowing out of bulbous vessels like this one still required use of an elongated stone borer in the form of a figure-of-eight to get under the shoulder. Imagine the hours of work that went into making this single jar!

See a complete but much smaller version of a pre-Dynastic breccia jar in a lot of three that sold at Christie's in 2015 for approximately $7938: http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/three-egyptian-stone-vases-predynastic-period-naqada-5926317-details.aspx

Condition: Repaired from two pieces, with significant loss to rim and one side of body as shown. Handles remain.

Provenance: private Long Island, New York, USA collection

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