New Year vessels, such as the pieces on display in the Egypt Centre, were lentoid shaped, resembling flasks. They were made from faience. These vessels were particularly popular during the reigns of Apries and Amasis of the 26th Dynasty. They sometimes occur in burials.
It has been suggested that the slightly squashed disc shape of the body (left) of the vessel represents the sun, a symbol of rebirth. The flaring rim, shown on the fragment on the right, may represent a floral motif, perhaps the lotus, again a symbol of rebirth. A pair of baboons often sits at the base of the neck with paws to the mouth. Baboons were symbols of rebirth, welcoming the sun as it arose each day. The inscription on the vessel on the left reads wpt rnpt nfr (Good New Year’s Day) and the determinative consists of three water lines (the zig-zag lines).
The ancient Egyptian New Year started in late summer when the Nile began its annual flood. It has been suggested that these vessels contained a liquid designed to be used in an as yet unknown New Year celebration. However, that some examples have been found in burials, suggests they also had a funerary rebirth function.
Blanquet, C-H, 1992, ‘Typologie de la bouteille de nouvel an’ in Cl. Obsomer, A-L. Oosthoek (ed) Amosiades Melanges offerts au professeur Claude Vanderslyen par ses anciens etudiant, Louvain-la-Neuve, 49-54.
Yamani, S. 2002, New Year’s bottles from Tell Marqula (Dakhla Oasis). Bulletin De L’Instit Français D’Archeologie Orientale, 102, 425-436.