Egyptian Alabaster Funerary Vessel

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Due to the nature of this collection, and the lack of documentation about the artifacts history, we do not know the original context of this Egyptian vessel. This jug was made out of alabaster, and it has been suggested that it served a funerary function. This could have included carrying oils, spices, or natron for preparatory rituals, such as those found at the graves of minor elite citizens. The painted designs are unclear because of the many large areas of loss. These decorative features in red and black pigments typically showed wheat, lotuses, and suns.

Conservation History

Initial Condition

The vessel’s fragments of the alabaster vessel had retained dirt, most likely form original dig sit. These pieces also showed signs of unknown brown staining on the interior surfaces. This Egyptian vessel has undergone previous restoration work, where shellac was used to adhere the fragments for reassembly.

Conservation Treatment

After an analysis of the stone fragments was done to confirm it was alabaster, the fragments required mechanical cleaning. This was done using brushes and other tools to remove dirt, while acetone and ethanol worked to remove the old shellac. The appearance of the brown accretion was lessened by chemical and mechanical cleaning. The reassembly required the use of epoxy, and for structural stability, some in filling was done completed with watercolour in painting.


0. Identification: AA1656

1. Institution: Department of Classics; Art Conservation Department (DA) Queen’s University  (Kingston, Ontario, Canada) (CO)

2. Identification references: AA1656

3.1. Category: funerary object; archaeological artifact

3.2. Designation : jar

3.3. Name: Egyptian Alabaster Funerary Vessel

3.4. Details: Diniacopoulos Collection

4.2. Description of iconography: lotus; wheat; sun; circles; geometric shapes

4.3. Iconographic analysis: figurative exterior motif related to funerary rituals ?

5.1. Material: alabaster; red pigment; black pigment

5.2. Technique: painted; carved ?

6.1. Unit: cm

6.2. Height: h 36.195 cm

6.5. Diameter: di 18.415 cm

6.7. Form: oval base; cylindrical body;  recurved shoulder; conical neck; handle appendages ?

7.1. Manner of discovery: acquired by Vincent and Olga Diniacopoulos

7.2. Place of discovery: Mediterranean Basin

8.3. Region, style, workshop: Egyptian

9.1. Inscription or Mark “Type”:  staining

9.2. Position: interior

9.3. Description of transcription: red-brown stains on interior could be pigment or human remains

10.2. Epoch: 950-900 BCE

11.1. Acquisition method: donation

11.2. Date of acquisition:  2001

11.3. Previous owner: Diniacopoulos, Olga