Naqada Jar with Painted Decoration

This Naqada jar is an artifact from Predynastic Period, the earliest period in Egyptian history. The pot was created during what is known as the Naqada II period (3500-3200 BC), long before the pyramids were built. This pot was probably made without use of a pottery wheel. The potter most likely pressed the damp clay between his or her hand and a large, flat tool held in the other hand. This created a thin-walled vessel, which could be easily carried and stored.

The decoration on the pot is typical of the Naqada II style. The top decoration is a large boat with many oars. The birds below the boat are probably flamingos, common wading birds. These decorations illustrate the importance of the Nile River to the Naqada II culture.

Naqada Jar with Painted Decoration
Naqada Jar with Painted Decoration

“We can only hypothesize regarding the funerary beliefs of the people of this period. Still, the boat motif, so widespread on fourth-millennium ceramics and also found in the decoration of the tomb at Hierakonpolis [an ancient large settlement in Upper Egypt located approximately midway between Luxor and Aswan], could have had a religious significance, referring to a voyage of the deceased in the next world.”

Mummies and Death in Egypt, by Françoise Dunand and Roger Lichtenberg, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA, 2006

Predynastic Period, Naqada II. Painted clay. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 64910