The Prunay vase
Iron Age, 400-350 BC
From Prunay, Marne, France
A fine example of La Tène Celtic Art on a pot
This type of pottery vessel is called a pedestal jar because it sits on a pedestal shaped foot. It was made by being thrown on a potter's wheel. This was one of the first pots to be made on a wheel in northern France. In Britain, pots would not be wheel-made for another 300 years.
It was very unusual for pots to be decorated with the swirling patterns of La Tène Celtic Art, as this one is. Usually, this style of decoration was only used on metal objects. The pattern on this pot is a curving scroll, repeated three times around the pot. It needed careful measurements using a compass to lay out the design. The pot was fired to a red colour in a bonfire kiln before the pattern was painted on the jar. The jar was re-fired in a bonfire kiln so that the painted pattern turned black.
The vessel was found in a grave and was collected by Léon Morel in the nineteenth century. It may have contained something for the dead person to drink in the next world. But what? Beer or perhaps mead?
I.M. Stead and V. Rigby, The Morel Collection: Iron Age (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)