Amethyst bottle

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 bottle
Small bottle made of amethyst

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 favorite 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.

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