Arabian Beehive Alabastron with Ram-Shaped Handles


An extremely fine Arabian ram-decorated beehive alabastron, engraved from a complete alabaster piece. Its elegant body is conveyed by a smooth, unbroken line that forms a globular bell-shaped body. It has a flat base and a short neck that flares into a wide opening with an everted lip. Two lug handles, asymmetrically arranged at each side of the container, are stylistically sculpted into a recumbent ram. It has a round lid, featuring a slightly convex surface, on which a small recumbent ram is naturalistically sculpted as a lid-knob. The rams are portrayed in a realistic manner, stylistically reminiscent of typical Mesopotamian representations.

Date: Circa 2900 - 2350 BC
Provenance: From the collection of a deceased gentleman pre 1988, by descent to the extended family in Geneva to London.
Condition: Very fine condition, with minor chipping to the rim.

In stock

This elegant vessel is a rare example, differing from the usual richly-ornamented Mesopotamian stone vessels, that were sculpted either as long, cylindrical forms or as delicate cups. With its protruding knobs and handles, sculpted into a ram terminal, this piece stylistically reflects aesthetic influences coming beyond the traditional Mesopotamian regions. The recumbent rams, ornamenting the lid and the handles of this vessel, are reminiscent of the ram-terminated knobs carved on Sumerian cylinder seals. However, its bell-shaped body and lid indicate a strong exotic cultural exchange that might have taken place during the Early Dynastic period (circa 2900-2350 BC). Having preceded the Uruk and the Jamet Naser periods (circa 4000-2900 BC), Early Dynastic Mesopotamia has always featured elaborately executed stone sculptures and stone vessels amongst its repertoire. Most of the alabaster and marble stone vessels or containers dating to the Early Dynastic, were sensitively carved in a simple, and yet elegant shape, decorated with naturalistically rendered zoomorphic ornamentations.

Weight 900 g
Dimensions W 16 x H 13.8 cm



Reference: For similar: The British Museum, London, item 125338

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