Users Of Egyptian Pottery - ceramic and pottery


The ancient Egyptians used pottery for burial purposes, to contain those interior parts of the body which were removed before embalming. Four vases, which were sometimes deposited with the mummied body, contained the stomach, the heart and lungs, the liver, and the smaller intestines.

These were generally made of stone, but sometimes of pottery. Examples are in the Abbott collection in New York. Besides these, large numbers of smaller objects in enamelled pottery were deposited with the dead. The most common were those now called Osirian figures, usually representing mummies. These are of various sizes. Many so closely resemble each other in work, and in the hieroglyphic legends painted or impressed on them, that it seems probable they were objects kept in stock by the potters for sale to purchasers for funeral purposes. They are found both unglazed and enamelled, in red pottery and in the hard, gritty pottery before described. Those which represent the person with a long robe, as in life, are more rare, and are believed to be the more ancient. It was also common to build into the walls on the interior of tombs cones of pottery, six to ten inches in length, the bases standing out, on which were engraved or impressed, before baking, legends relating to the dead occupants of the tomb. These cones have been found in great numbers, and much important information has been derived from the inscriptions on them, which usually contain the name of the deceased, his titles, the offices which he held, and expressions appropriate to funeral purposes. These were formerly supposed to be stamps for seals. The practice of burning the dead which the Greeks introduced led to the use of pottery for the ashes of the dead.

In the year 1855 we examined a great number of tombs in a very extensive cemetery then lying to the eastward of Alexandria, now covered by the modern growth of that city, and found many vases and lamps of Egyptian pottery of the Greek and Roman periods. One tomb alone contained over a hundred vases in a decayed condition, all of common red pottery, unglazed, without decoration, except now and then a few lines of black on the red clay. A vase, taken from one of these tombs (III. 14), will serve as an illustration of the later Greek style in Egypt. This vase we found sunk in a square cavity, only large enough to hold it, in the rock floor of a tomb. It was closed by a disk, cemented in the orifice, and contained bones and ashes.
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