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W1283 Bes Vessel 

w1283Pottery vessel in marl fabric, 13.2cm high. This is a Bes vase of the Ptolemaic Period.  

The vessel is stylised. Such vessels are found in Palestine as well as Egypt. The function of such vessels is unknown. It has been suggested that they contained wine or milk drunk at festivals.  

See Kaiser 2003 for information on this type of vessel. Kaiser believes that this type of vessel was probably made in a single workshop at Saqqara. It dates to the Ptolemaic Period. 

For similar jars see: Arnold and Bourriau 1993, fig. 100F and Beck et al. 2005, 534.

Bes appears to have been a protective deity connected with children and women in childbirth. 

Our vessel seems to have been part of the MacGregor Collection purchased by Henry Wellcome in 1922. An early catalogue card suggests the item may come from Bubastis.  


Arnold, D. and Bourriau, J., 1993 An Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Pottery, Mainz. 

Beck, H., Bol, P. C.and Bückling, M. 2005, Ägypten Greichenland Rom Abwehr und Berühung Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städische Galerie, 2005-2006(Exhibition catalogue), Frankfort. 

Kaiser, R.K., 2003. Water, Milk, Beer and Wine for the Living and the Dead: Egyptian and Syrio Palestinian Bes-Vessels from the New Kingdom Through the Greaco Roman Period, unpublished PhD thesis, University of California.