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Bronze bowl


Height: 9.500 cm
Diameter: 14.900 cm

Gift of Oxford University

EA 51462

Room 65: Sudan, Egypt & Nubia

    Bronze bowl

    From the Meroitic cemetery at Faras, Sudan
    1st-3rd century AD

    Decorated with rearing cobra and ankh motifs

    This bowl was made from a metal sheet, beaten into shape over a mould or rod-anvil. Bronze and copper become very brittle when beaten. To keep the metal supple it was heated it in a furnace while it was worked. The cobra and ankh decorations were added once the vessel had been shaped, using a chisel and hammer-stone.

    Amulets were often used for decoration. The rearing cobra represented the eye of Re, a force that the god sent to destroy his enemies. As the uraeus it was placed on the brow of the king to protect him and show his divine status. It was also placed on the head-dresses of the gods to indicate their divinity. The motif was used on furniture and other objects as both a decorative and a protective feature.

    The ankh, representing 'life', is possibly a schematic drawing of a sandal strap. The ankh is often presented to the king by the gods in temple scenes. It was used as a motif in friezes and on furniture and vessels. The ankh amulet was also placed among the bandages of mummies, but was rarely worn by the living.

    J.H. Taylor, Egypt and Nubia (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

    M. Stead, Egyptian life (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)


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