This small bottle made of beautifully veined amethyst would have been a luxury item, most probably filled with an expensive, fragrant oil. The container would have had a stopper. Since the base is rounded and does not sit flat, the container would probably have been placed in a box or ring stand to remain upright.
This type of vessel was made in Egypt from the Old Kingdom onward. To judge by its shape, this particular example probably dates to the Old Kingdom, ca. 2675-2130 BC.
Amethyst was highly valued for its vibrant purple color and was associated with royalty, spirituality, and protection.
These vessels were often intricately designed and decorated, reflecting the artistic and aesthetic sensibilities of the time.
While many associate ancient Egypt with stones like lapis lazuli, turquoise, and carnelian, evidence shows that they also took a liking to amethyst. Amethyst jewels as old as 3000 BC have been uncovered from archaeological digs.
A favourite among the kings, it was thought to protect the wearer from evil and misfortune. It was often carved into the shape of a god or sacred animal and worn as an amulet.
A bracelet with a large amethyst scarab was among many of the treasures found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
While amethyst was highly valued in ancient Egypt, it was primarily used in jewelry and amulets rather than as a material for cosmetic vessels.
Dimensions: H x W: 8 x 7 cm (3 1/8 x 2 3/4 in). Now in the Freer Gallery of Art. F1909.60