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Black ovoid basalt vase with two pierced lugs on a small circular foot. Excavated by Brunton from Mostagedda, Upper Egypt in 1929. For information on Predynastic basalt vases see Mallory-Greenough (2002). This is perhaps a type 2d which is said by Mallory-Greenough (2001, 70) to date to Nagada I-II. These tend to occur in wealthy burials.

The type is thought to be originally a design of pottery originating in Mesopotamia (Adams 1988).

This vessel is published in Brunton (1937, 74, 86 pl 42). Page 74 reads ‘11729. Grave covered with matting laid on sticks. Finer matting on and under body’.


Mallory-Greenough et al. (1999) showed that in Predynastic Egypt a major source of basalt for was somewhere west of Cairo. This source was often used in preference to closer sources. It is not known why basalt from such a distant source was preferred, whether it fulfilled some unknown functional or ritual purpose. See Stocks (2003, 139-165) for information on vessel manufacture.

Other Predynastic and Early Dynastic items in the Egypt Centre

Further Reading:


Adams, B. Predynastic Egypt. Aylesbury: Shire Publications

Brunton, G., 1937, Mostagedda and the Tasian Culture. London: Quaritch.

Mallory-Greenough, Leanne M., John D. Greenough, and J. Victor Owen. 1999. The Stone Source of Predynastic Basalt Vessels: Mineralogical Evidence for Quarries in Northern Egypt. Journal of Archaeological Science 26:1261-1272.

Mallory-Greenough, L.M., 2002. ‘The Geographical, Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Predynastic and First Dynasty Basalt Vessels’ Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 88, 67-93.

Stocks, D.A. 2003. Experiments in Egyptian Archaeology. Stoneworking Technology in Egypt. London and New York: Routledge.