c. 3300–3100 BCE
Marl clay pottery
Diameter: 28.2 cm (11 1/8 in.); Diameter of mouth: 15.2 cm (6 in.); Overall: 32 cm (12 5/8 in.)
Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1914.639
The decoration painted on this jar shows two multi-oared boats traveling through fertile riverbanks lined with trees and aloe bushes. Rows of triangles indicate the desert hills in the background. The Nile was Egypt’s primary means of transportation and communication, since river traffic was far more efficient than travel by land. The concept of boat travel permeated all aspects of Egyptian life and religion. The sun god Ra was believed to travel by boat across the heavens by day and through the underworld by night. Funerary texts describe the trip to the afterlife as a journey by boat, and scenes of boats figured prominently in tomb decoration.
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