Saturday, June 15, 2013

The "Dolphin Vase"

     I am not usually all that interested in pottery, but there is one vessel in the Metropolitan Museum's collection that is really interesting.

     The so-called "Dolphin Vase" was found at Lisht and may date to the Thirteenth Dynasty. Its origin has been debated for many years, with many Egyptologists suggesting that it may have been influenced by Aegean art. Others point to the decoration's resemblance to Tell el-Yahudiya ware and suggest an origin in the Levant.

     The vase shows three dolphins along the its lower part, with a number of birds (geese?) above the dolphins. It has been pointed out (McGovern, Patrick, et. al., "The Archaeological Origin and Significance of the Dolphin Vase as Determined by Neutron Activation Analysis", Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research, No. 26 (Nov. 1994), pp. 31-43) that the birds have no parallels on Crete, which would also argue against this vase being influenced by Aegean art. The piriform shape of the vessel is a common shape for pottery made in the Levant during this time period.

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