Naukratis: Greeks in Egypt

Alexandra Villing, Marianne Bergeron, Giorgos Bourogiannis, Alan Johnston, François Leclère, Aurélia Masson and Ross Thomas

With Daniel von Recklinghausen, Jeffrey Spencer, Valerie Smallwood, Virginia Webb and Susan Woodford

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Supported by

The Leverhulme Trust
  • The Shelby White - Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications
  • Christian Levett and the Mougins Museum of Classical Art
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Ptolemaic and Roman faience vessels


Ross Iain Thomas

Ptolemaic and Roman faience vessels emerged from a long Egyptian tradition and their presence at Naukratis reflects the continued popularity of faience vessels within Egyptian society until the beginning of the 3rd century AD. However, the introduction of Greek technology as well as new forms and fashions mean that the variety of faience vessel forms is significantly different from what came before. The assemblage can be broadly separated into four productions: 3rd and 2nd century BC bi- or multi-chrome faience with mould-made relief and incised detail; 2nd to 1st century BC undecorated mono- or bi-chrome vessels; rare Ptolemaic faience plastic vases; and plain turquoise 1st and 2nd century AD table wares. There is also evidence for production during the 3rd or 2nd century BC in the form of moulds. Collectively the assemblage not only adds to our knowledge of the range of table wares used at Naukratis, but also sheds light on the ritual practices of the Greek elite and the ruler cult of Arsinoe II in the 3rd century BC. Faience vessels associated with the New Year and inundation festivals show remarkable continuity with the preceding periods at Naukratis.


Truncated cone beaker decorated with lotus, flying ducks and squares and crosses, c. 300–200 BC. British Museum, 1888,0601.39