Egyptian painted pottery in Naqada I depicts a wide variety of themes and subjects. In Naqada II, the painted pottery repertoire becomes relatively limited and repetitive. Towards the end of late Naqada II, there appear to be fewer than a dozen vases known which depict different animals, together with water and mountains, which probably represent the Nile and the adjacent hilly desert skyline. The most famous of the vases of this type depicts a procession of mammals, either otters, aardvarks or, more likely, ichneumons (see no. 3 in Fazzini, et al., Ancient Egyptian Art in the Brooklyn Museum).
The present vase depicts serpents, the Nile and surrounding hills, and is thought by some scholars to represent an early form of pictographic writing.
Subsequent to the appearance of these late Naqada II vases, the ancient Egyptians appear to have ceased painting vases for about 500 years.