Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Jug Decorated with Dolphins and Birds

Middle Kingdom or Second Intermediate Period
Dynasty 13–15
ca. 1750–1550 B.C.
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, cemetery south of pyramid below House A1:3, Pit 879, MMA excavations, 1920–21
Pottery, manganese black, gypsum fill
H. 15 cm (5 7/8 in.); Diam. 14.9 cm (5 7/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1922
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 111
No exact parallel to this magnificent vessel has yet been found anywhere. The presence of dolphins and the freedom with which all the animals move around the vessel body have suggested influences from the Aegean to some scholars. The general shape and double handle, however, are Levantine, and a possible source location for the clay has been identified in southern Canaan, while the technique of decoration is similar to, but not the same as, the one used on the "Tell el-Jahudiyeh" pottery.

Three dolphins move around the foot of the jug, with three large birds (possibly geese) above each of them; a smaller bird is tucked below the handle. Is this perhaps an image of the Levantine coast, with dolphins in the water and migratory geese coming to rest on the beach? A Dynasty 13 date is suggested by other objects found in the same tomb shaft.
Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds.

Hayes, William C. 1959. Scepter of Egypt II: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Part II: The Hyksos Period and the New Kingdom (1675-1080 B.C.). Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p.12, p.13, fig. 4.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek Bagh, Tine 2015. "Jug Decorated with Dolphins and Birds." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 179, fig. 83, no. 115.

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