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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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  • Description

    Blue glazed composition dish: expertly decorated in manganese, this dish shows a rectangular pool from which emerge groups of blue lotus flowers, a frequent symbol of rebirth. The pool is decorated with a pinwheel design surrounded by wavy lines, which are the hieroglyphic sign for water.

  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 25.4 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    The tombs in which such bowls have been excavated are non-royal and mostly female. In a burial context, the fertility imagery suggests rebirth and a desire for regeneration in the Beyond. The predominant, though not exclusive, association of the bowls with women's graves is noteworthy: three bowls, for example, were found at the head end of a Theban female coffin. Female associations are further emphasized by inscribed votive examples from Deir el-Bahri that mention, besides Hathor, queens or princesses but not kings.

    M. Stead, 'Egyptian Life' (London, 1986), p. 42, fig. 57;
    J.-C. Hugonot, Le Jardin dans l'Égypte ancienne' (Frankfurt, 1989), p. 220;
    I. Shaw and P. Nicholson, 'British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt (London, 1995), p. 95.
    G. Pinch, Magic in Ancient Egypt (London 1994), p.308.


  • Bibliography

    • Friedman 1998 76 bibliographic details
  • Condition


  • Conservation

    See treatments 

  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • BS.4790 (Birch Slip Number)
Blue glazed composition dish decorated with representation of pool and aquatic plants.

Blue glazed composition dish decorated with representation of pool and aquatic plants.

Image description



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Object reference number: YCA69178

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