Egyptian alabaster, also known as travertine, was frequently used for cosmetic jars in antiquity. In Ancient Egypt, alabaster jars were used as containers for ointment, perfume, and other cosmetic products, such as kohl. The alabaster used by ancient civilisations in the wider Middle East (including Egypt and Mesopotamia) is also called “oriental alabaster”, which is a type of calcite. Many ancient peoples used alabaster for decoration, as it was easy to carve and could be treated in such a way as to resemble marble. Although being a soft and slightly porous stone made alabaster easy to carve, the upshot was that it would not survive for significant periods of time when exposed to the elements. The name “alabaster” is thought to have derived from the Ancient Egyptian, ‘a-labaste‘, which refers to the vessels of the goddess, Bast. Usually depicted as a lioness, her figure would often sit on top of alabaster vessels.
Ancient Egyptian Greystone Alabaster Cosmetic Jar
A thin, rounded Ancient Egyptian greystone alabaster jar with a subtle pattern of natural striations. The jar features an elongated body with two small lug handles and a slightly raised lip. The vessel stands upright on a small flattened base.
Period: Late Dynastic Period
Condition: Good Condition. Some chips to lip and earthly encrustation on surface.