• Antiquities auction at Christies

    Sale 7207

    Antiquities

    25 October 2012, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 30

    AN EGYPTIAN ROCK CRYSTAL BOWL

    EARLY DYNASTIC, DYNASTY I, CIRCA 3000-2750 B.C.

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN EGYPTIAN ROCK CRYSTAL BOWL
    EARLY DYNASTIC, DYNASTY I, CIRCA 3000-2750 B.C.
    With flaring convex sides and inward-folded rim, on a flat base, the interior with circular countersunk recess
    4¾ in. (12 cm.) diam., 1 7/8 in. (4.8 cm.) high


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    Purportedly found in North Saqqara, this is a rare and complete example of a rock crystal vessel from Egypt. A similar vessel is at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (accession no. E.43.1912).

    The ancient Egyptians sourced rock crystal in the areas of the Fayum and Bahariya in the Western desert, as well as the Sinai. Rock crystal vessels are exceptionally rare, probably due to the hardness of the material which makes it much more difficult to work. However, such practical motives did not determine the choice of material, but rather the purpose for which a vessel was intended. A much prized material throughout antiquity, the philosopher Pliny the Elder reported that the Romans favoured rock crystal not only for its sparkling brillance, but also for its cooling properties (cf. B Musche and J. Kröger, "Rock crystal", Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. VI, Fasc. 4, pp. 436-441).

    For a discussion on the shape, cf. A. El-Khouli, Egyptian Stone Vessels, vol. I, Mainz, 1978, pp. 380-382.

    Provenance

    with Khawam, Paris, 1974.
    Private collection, UK.