- Museum number
Beehive-shaped jar (alabastron); carved from banded calcite, polished exterior; squat with flat bottom; an opposing pair of pierced lug handles in the form of highly stylised bull’s heads; inscribed in series of drill holes; the unpolished roughly tooled underside of base was damaged in antiquity and there are old cracks and natural veins emanating from the rim. The lid has a handle on the top, again in the form of stylised bull’s head, and which was reportedly found cemented onto the object with plaster before it was acquired.
- Production date
- 3rdC BC-2ndC
Diameter: 10 centimetres (at the base)
Height: 9.70 centimetres (approx)
Height: 3.87 inches
Width: 4 inches
Volume: 145 millilitres
- Curator's comments
The lid and vessel do not originally belong. This pot is said to have originally contained a hoard of 24 coins of 1stCBC-1stC (and published by J. Walker of the C&M Dept), to which Dept they were transferred with one exception which has been retained by ANE (1934,0510.2 = BM125339); this is presumably that which was formally presented with the vessel. The remainder cannot be traced in C&M (2000/01) but this may be because Lawrence was then an honorary curator working in that Department and as they were unregistered they may have remained his personal property.
Bowers catalogue entry
Inscribed “beehive”-shaped jar
3rd century BC - 1st century AD
Height c. 9.7 cm, diameter 10 cm; capacity 145 ml
ANE 1934-5-10,1 = 125338
Presented by Dr L.A. Lawrence
This type of calcite-alabaster jar, or so-called “beehive”-shaped vessel, has been found at archaeological sites throughout Arabia, including graves on the Persian Gulf island of Bahrain, but the majority have been found in Yemen whence they were made and exported. This vessel has a flat bottom, two pierced handles in the form of highly stylised bull’s heads, and two short drilled, dotted Qatabanian inscriptions which give two personal names, “Ammyathi” and “Abkahil”. The first of these names also occurs on stone vessels, a gold seal and the base of a statue in the former Muncherjee collection which was said to have come from a tomb group belonging to one of the kings of Awsan, but the findspot of this jar is unknown. The lid has a handle on the top in the form of stylised animal’s head, but the lid does not appear to be original despite reportedly having been found cemented onto the object before it was acquired. The vessel is also said to have been found containing a hoard of coins, mostly of South Arabian origin, including fifteen silver Himyarite “Bucranium” series coins dating to the 1st century BC, six Himyarite Royal series coins dating to AD 50-150, a Roman republican silver denarius, and a Roman provincial bronze of Antoninus Pius (AD 138-161). The coins have since been dispersed as the previous owner was a coin collector. This is not the only vessel of this type to have been found in this region and reportedly containing a hoard of coins or jewellery but, if indeed these objects were found in these vessels, it probably simply implies that the latter had been recycled in antiquity (or more recent times) as a convenient container, as vessels of this type were intended as containers for expensive unguents in the form of semi-solid perfumed ointments or animal-fat grease.
- On display (G53/dc1)
- Exhibition history
2004-2005 17 Oct-13 Mar, California, Bowers Museum, 'Queen of Sheba: Legend and Reality'
2002 5 Jun-13 Oct, BM, 'Queen of Sheba: Treasures from ancient Yemen'
2002-2005 8 Aug-16 Dec, BM, G51/PSA/3
1976-1997 BM, West Stairs: South Arabian Landing [SAL], wall-case 2 [WC2]
- Underside of base damaged; old cracks and natural veins emanating from the rim.
NB Take care not to place too heavily on a hard surface
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Reported to the Trustees 10 October 1934 where it is stated that only one coin was presented with the vessel; acquisition reported in BMQ 9/3 (February 1935), p.97 as "An alabaster vessel with lugs, bearing a Himyaritic inscription in characters formed by points. Presented by Dr L.A. Lawrence. This, with the coins which the vessel contained, was published by Mr. J. Walker in 'Le Muséon', 1933, p. 273".
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: Ja 2221 (siglum)