New Kingdom Alabaster Pilgrim Flask - PF.2309
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 1600 BC to 1100 BC
Dimensions: 5.75" (14.6cm) high
Catalogue: V6
Collection: Egyptian
Style: New Kingdom
Medium: Alabaster


Created from a single block of exquisite banded alabaster with paper-thin, translucent walls, our lentoid-shaped vessel belongs to a classification of flasks which were extremely popular during the course of the New Kingdom. Inscribed examples in faience of a slightly later date indicate that these vessels were used to collect water from the Nile River during the initial rise of its waters caused by the annual inundation which occurred in late summer. That collected water was then used in rituals celebrating the ancient Egyptian New Year which annually coincided with this rise of the Nile.

Excavated examples in the collections of the Petrie Museum of Archaeology at University College London are similar to our example in their profile and in the design of their neck and lip [inventory numbers 4161 and 41619]. Our example, however, appears to be unique within this repertoire because it is designed with straps, created in imitation of a leather slings, which cradle it on both sides. As such it represents one of the finest examples of this type presently known.


Museum of Fine Arts, Egypt’s Golden Age: The Art of Living in the New Kingdom (Boston 1982), page 83, no. 82, for an example in pottery; and Robert Steven Bianchi, in F. D. Friedman [editor], Gifts of the Nile. Ancient Egyptian Faience (Providence 1998), nos. 126-127, for later examples in faience.

- (PF.2309)