Early Dynastic Ritual Vessel


A finely engraved alabaster ritual vessel with a ram’s head sculpted in relief at one end, dating to the Early Dynastic IIIA period, circa 2550-2400 BC.

It features gently curved contours forming a naturalistic leaf-shaped container, reminiscent of the earlier shell and shell-shaped pouring vessels of the Early Dynastic II period, circa 2700 BC. A finely sculpted ram’s head in relief, embellishes one end, from which its body narrows into a small spout. It has been suggested that the recess could have originally held a wick, thus the vessel was used as a lamp.

The simple, yet elegant shape and the stylised zoomorphic ornamentation of this vessel, are characteristic of the traditional executions and aesthetic fashion of the Early Dynastic III stone vessels.


Date: Circa 2550-2400BC
Period: Early Dynastic IIIA
Provenance: Ex collection of a deceased gentleman by descent to his family in London and Geneva, collection acquired 1970-1990.
Condition: Fine condition, with cracks and minor chippings to the encrusted surfaces and rims.


SKU: HL-15 Category:

Having been precede the Uruk and the Jemet Nasr periods (circa 4000-2900BC), Early Dynastic Mesopotamia has always been featured with its elaborately executed stone sculptures and stone vessels. 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 naturistically rendered zoomorphic ornamentations. These prominent characters of the Early Dynastic stone vessels thus create an enchanting appeal merely by their shapes and the stones’ originally creamy and translucent textures. The iconography of a similarly shaped stone vessel first occurred on an elaborately inlaid panel depicting a funerary banqueting scene, excavated from an Early Dynastic III royal tomb at Ur cemetery. On it, a walking lion with human hands, carries a paralleled stone pouring vessel. Stone pouring vessels of this class, seemed to have remained absent until the Early Dynastic IIIA period, and are believed to have been used as a ritual vessel at Sumerian and Akkadian funerary libation occasions. Alabaster vessels of this type, with a wider variety in shapes and decorations, might have been attributed to the subsequent Akkadian dynasty.


Weight 550 g
Dimensions L 17.8 x W 8.8 x H 4.1 cm



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