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 Eastern region including Egypt and Mesopotamia is often referred to as “oriental alabaster”, which is a type of calcite. Due to its easy carving characteristic and resemblance to marble, many ancient peoples used alabaster for decoration. Although alabaster’s soft and slightly porous stone made it easy to carve, the upshot was that it would not survive for significant periods of time when exposed to the natural elements. The name “alabaster” is thought to have derived from the Ancient Egyptian, ‘a-labaste‘, which refers to the vessels of the goddess, Bast. She is usually depicted as a lioness, her figure often sitting atop alabaster vessels.
Ancient Egyptian Alabaster Jar
A very fine Ancient Egyptian alabaster jar, featuring an ovoid body. The vessel rests on a small flat base, that gently curves upwards towards a slightly flattened, short rim with a wide mouth, with no defined neck. The alabaster is a pleasing light-cream coloured shade, enhanced by thin white veins and natural striations.
Period: New Kingdom
Condition: Fine condition. Earthly encrustations on surface. Minor chips to rim