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Jar with Zigzag Panels

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
Writing first appeared in Egypt about 3200 B.C.E. Many scholars have long believed that writing came to Egypt from western Asia. Inscribed objects recently excavated at Abydos in Upper Egypt may predate extensive contact between Egypt and the Near East, which would mean that writing developed in both places independently. Many signs and pictures that evolved into writing initially served decorative purposes. The zigzag lines on the sides of this jar, made at least a century before writing began, later became the hieroglyph for “water.”
MEDIUM Clay, pigment
  • Place Excavated: Adaima, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 3500–3300 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Predynastic Period, Naqada II Period
    DIMENSIONS 6 3/8 x greatest diam. 5 5/16 in. (16.2 x 13.5 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 09.889.402
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    PROVENANCE Tomb no. 25, Adaima, Egypt; between December 1907 and January 1908, excavated by Henri de Morgan of Francescas, France and New York, NY; 1909, purchased from Henri de Morgan by the Brooklyn Museum.
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Ovoid vase of buff pottery, with two broad sting-hole handles. Small flattened base. Short concave neck, slightly offset from shoulder. Straight, rather wide mouth. Rather broad lip, with flattened, slightly sloping upperside, bevelled and slightly rolled-back underside, sharply protruding over neck. Decorated in reddish-brown painting with six panels of nearly equal breadth, filled with horizontal “water-lines” from neck to base; handles included; on base a regular spiral; on lip dense radiating lines. Thick walls. Regular piece. Condition: Lip corroded. On one side, badly corroded below neck. For the rest, good. Very slightly efflorescence.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Jar with Zigzag Panels, ca. 3500–3300 B.C.E. Clay, pigment, 6 3/8 x greatest diam. 5 5/16 in. (16.2 x 13.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 09.889.402. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.09.889.402_NegA_print_bw.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, CUR.09.889.402_NegA_print_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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