Red slipped amphora

From Faras, Sudan
Meroitic Period, 1st to 2nd centuries AD

Amphora decorated with vine leaves and ducks in black and white

Fineware bowls, cups and jars were often placed in Meroitic graves, to be used by the deceased in the Afterlife. Like the fragile fineware vessels, this amphora is covered in a red slip upon which the painted decoration is applied in bands, using a basic palette of black, red and white. A picture of the vessel itself appears on the neck of the amphora.

The decorative motifs are derived from those of Ptolemaic and early Roman Egypt, from about the third to the first century BC. The combination of geometric, floral and animal motifs is typical of pottery of this period. It shows the influence of the Mediterranean world, which was becoming ever more pronounced as Egypt came under the domination of the Greeks, and then the Romans. The running vine leaves continued to be a popular motif into the Coptic period, appearing on pottery until the Arab conquest in the seventh century AD.

Animal motifs were common in the art of the Mediterranean world. The ducks at the base of this vessel could have been observed from local wildlife. They could also be derived from Egyptian art, in which they were frequently depicted, or copied from hieroglyphic symbols.

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Height: 43.000 cm

Museum number

EA 51500


Gift of Oxford University


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