Part of my fascination with early Egypt is the tension between how very old they are and how very recent in terms of the history of our species. This bowl is around 5,500 years old, an incomprehensible span of time, yet humans have existed for way more than 10 times that long.

It was made by someone in the early Naqada II culture, around 3650-3500 BCE. So to an Egyptian from the time of the initial unification of Egypt the people who made this bowl were like people from the Wars of the Roses are to us. A historical artifact to them as well as us!

But still a blink of an eye in terms of the time H. sapiens has been around and even in terms of the time since H. sapiens acquired full behavioural modernity 50,000 or more years ago. People had quite possibly been eating fish from the Nile long long before this pot was made.

It’s also quite a nice looking piece to my mind, and would’ve been nicer still when first made. If you look closely it has traces of white paste in some of the incised decoration, so the decoration must’ve once been very vivid against the black pottery.

Incised Ware Bowl. Provenance unknown. Predynastic Period, Early Naqada II, c.3650-3500 BCE. Acc. No.: 07.228.111

It’s not known where the pot was found, but it is now in the Met Museum (acc. no.: 07.228.111)

See it on my photo site:

Jigsaw Puzzles:

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