Black-topped vessels are one of the hallmarks of the Predynastic Naqada I-II period. This was an epoch of great growth and development, just before the historical record and the time of Egypt’s first kings. The process of fashioning these vessels was complex and labour-intensive. The fabric was Nile silt, which was later mixed with sand and organic material in order to create harder and more enduring pottery. The vessels were hand-formed of coils and smoothed with the tempered addition of water, then coated with iron oxide, polished with a smooth stone, fired in a kiln and, finally, burnished along the lip with carbonized organic material. As black-topped jars are ubiquitous in a variety of contexts, it is clear that they had both a utilitarian and funerary function. The simple lines, tactile surface, and rich colours of these black-topped jars are elements that have guaranteed their enduring appeal, more than five thousand years after they were first created.
Edward Drummond Libbey (1854-1925), Toledo, gifted to The Toledo Museum of Art, 1906, accession no. 1906.213.
Toledo Museum of Art, 1906-2016.
Published: The Toledo Museum of Art, Catalogue of a Collection of Egyptian Antiquities, Brought Together and Presented to The Toledo Museum of Art by Mr. Edward Drummond Libbey (Toledo, 19060, p. 35, no. 213.