Egyptian, about 625-550 BC
Found at Vulci, ancient Etruria (now in Lazio, Italy)
Greeting the New Year
This is one of a pair of vessels found in the Isis tomb of the Polledrara Cemetery at Vulci. This rich tomb was opened in 1839 by Lucien Bonaparte (1775-1840), brother of Napoleon. After the contents were removed, the tomb was filled in and is now lost. It became known as the Isis Tomb after a statue found there that was thought to represent the Egyptian goddess Isis. Other finds also had a strongly Egyptian character, including this pale blue faience vessel.
This flask has a decorated rim and neck and a pair of antelope-head handles. There are hieroglyphic inscriptions on the shoulders, expressing New Year greetings to the owner. The Egyptian New Year began in late summer when the River Nile began its annual flood (inundation). The transition from one year to the other was considered potentially very dangerous and many rituals were performed to propitiate (gain the goodwill of) the associated deities. Vessels such as this formed part of these rituals, and the deities most commonly evoked were Ptah and Amun.
E. Macnamara, The Etruscans-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)