New year flask, royal gift of sacred water

New year flask, royal gift of sacred water
Period:Egypt, Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, Senwosret II/Sesostris II/Khakheperre
Dating:1971 BC–1878 BC
Origin:Egypt, Nubia
Physical:14.8cm. (5.8 in.) - 1350 g. (47.7 oz.)

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Links to others from Dynasty 12

Bronze mirror, double Horus, Dyn. 12
Bronze of Goddess Nebethetepet, Dyn. 12
Ka statue of King Amenemhet III, Dyn. 12
King as Horus-the-Child, Dyn. 12
Limestone shawabti, Dyn. 12
Limestone shawabti, Dyn. 12
Panel from outer wooden coffin, Dyn. 12
Queen as Isis nursing, Dyn. 12
Scarab of Senusret I, Dyn. 12
Scarab with Lord Ptah, Dyn. 12
Scarab with Ra and four cobras, Dyn. 12
Scarab with Thot Ka Ra, Dyn. 12
Shawabti of Im-Neferw-Neb, Dyn. 12
Shawabti ‘substitute of the dead’, Dyn.12
Shawabti, ‘substitute of the dead’, Dyn.12
Stone head of a king, Dyn. 12
Wood statue of Amenemhat II, Dyn. 12

Links to others of type Flask

Biconical glass flask, Syria, 200-400 AD
Cylindrical glass bottle, Syria, 300-400 AD
Diamond-pattern blown glass flask, Rome
Double-head glass flask, Syria, 1-300 AD
Flattened glass flask, Syria, 1-300 AD
Flattened traveller’s glass flask, 50-120 AD
Glass flask, Eastern Roman, 280-350 AD
Glass flask, tooled stemmed foot
Glass unguentarium, Alexandria, 1-100 AD
Glass unguentarium, Roman, 50-150 AD
Glass unguentarium, Syria, 1-100 AD
Golden iridescent flask, Syria, 300-400 AD
Iridescent funnel-mouth flask, Palestine
Iridescent glass flask, Palestine, 40 BC-30 AD
Iridescent glass flask, Roman, 1-200 AD
Iridescent glass flask, Roman, 1-200 AD
Iridescent glass flask, Syria, 300-400 AD
Iridescent glass unguentarium, 1-100 AD
Iridescent glass unguentarium, 1-100 AD
Iridescent glass unguentarium, 1-100 AD
Iridescent glass unguentarium, 1-100 AD
Large flat glass bottle, Syria, 1-100 AD
Mold-blown glass flask
New Year’s flask for sacred water, Dyn.18
Polychrome glass flask with spiral coil
Spherical glass flask, Palestine, 200-700 AD
Translucent glass flask
Translucent glass flask, Palestine 600-700 AD
  This bronze new year flask was most probably crafted between the reigns of Senusret I and Senusret II of Dynasty 12 (1971-1878 BC)—not in Egypt proper but rather in Kerma, the capital of the kingdom of Kush. New Year flasks were traditionally offered on New Year's Day, filled with water from a sacred pool. This particular flask from Nubia is exuberantly ornamented with symbolic motifs.

Immediately beneath the spout, a great uzekh collar with six rows of pearls wraps around the widening neck of the flask.

Side A
Beneath the collar, appears goddess Bat/Hathor with the face of a woman and the ears of a cow. She wears the type of large wig seen on several queens of Dynasty 12, such as queen Nofret, with thick braids that coil away from the neck. The first row of a large collar wraps beneath her neck. Her hieroglyphic name sits as a crown on her head. On either side of her, oversized versions of the snake goddess Wadjet or Urei with royal faces wear the royal crowns, one of Upper Egypt, the other of Lower Egypt. Müller (2000:96, pl. 195) documents a similar snake representation on the pectoral of the granite statue of Queen Nofret.

“[Queen Nofret (c.1880-1874 BC)] is represented as a stately, rather formidable lady, wearing an immense wig, very fashionable in her day” (Rice 2002:141).

Side B
The same portrait of Bat/Hathor, without the crown, is flanked by two anthropomorphic subjects. The one on the left carries a tall lotus flower that may be a scepter. The one on the right holds a tall staff. Below Bat/Hathor, two large-horned oxen such as are usually found south of Egypt, standing on a wall or a floor of mud bricks, smell a bouquet of three lotus flowers.

This royal New Year flask was most probably crafted in Nubia as a local gift to, or commissioned by, the ruler of Kerma, who was deeply influenced by Egyptian culture and traditions. The ornamentation presents stylistic references to the heyday of the kingdom of Kerma and Egyptian Dynasty 12 (when Egypt established numerous outposts to contain Kerma).

Kerma was the “town-site of the early second millennium BC, near the third Nile cataract in Upper Nubia, which was almost certainly the capital of the Kushite Kingdom during the Egyptian Old and Middle Kingdoms (2686-1650 BC) - it is therefore the type-site for the Kerma culture (c.2500-1500 BC), probably to be identified with the Egyptians ‘land of Yam’” (Shaw & Nicholson 1995:148).

Bibliography (for this item)

Hart, George
1986 A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, United Kingdom.

Institut du monde Arabe, Paris, , and Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich
1997 SOUDAN. Royaumes sur le Nil (Exhibition in Munich, Paris, Amsterdam, Toulouse, Mannheim.). Flammarion, Paris. (206)

Müller, Hans W.
2000 L’or de l’Egypte Ancienne. Sélection du Reader’s Digest, Paris. (28, 61, pl. #137-38, 120, 195, 196, 197, 199)

Rice, Michael
2002 Who’s Who in Ancient Egypt. Routledge, London, United Kingdom. (141)

Shaw, Ian, and Paul Nicholson
1995 The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. British Museum Press, London, United Kingdom. (148)

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