Pot decorated with a boat

British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

The pink colour of the fabric of this vessel is typical of the marl clay obtained from the desert areas of Egypt. Vessels with rounded or tapered bases were common in the Predynastic period, and occurred throughout Egyptian history. These pots were supported on a stand or were placed in a depression made in the sand.The exterior is decorated with stylized representations in red ochre paint. The simple abstract patterns and spirals of the earliest examples were probably imitating vessels made of a hard stone such as breccia. The multiple wavy lines around the neck of this example, may represent water.The motifs used in later scenes include birds, animals, people and boats. The stylized boat on this vessel is typical of this period. It has a basic long curved shape, with strokes coming off it to represent oars. The two structures in the centre are probably cabins or shrines, one with an emblem like the later standards that represented different districts. Human figures are sometimes depicted near the cabins. These are often women, who are interpreted as dancers because they have their arms raised above their heads.


  • Title: Pot decorated with a boat
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 25.00cm; Diameter: 19.50cm (max); Weight: 1700.00g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Registration number: 1899,1017.76
  • Place: Found/Acquired Hiw
  • Period/culture: Naqada II
  • Material: pottery
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Egypt Exploration Fund

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