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Meroitic Pottery Flask

Meroitic Pottery Flask

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Meroitic language

The Meroitic language ( / m ɛr oʊ ˈ ɪ t ɪ k / ) was spoken in Meroë (in present-day Sudan) during the Meroitic period (attested from 300 BCE) and became extinct about 400 CE. It was written in two forms of the Meroitic alphabet: Meroitic Cursive, which was written with a stylus and was used for general record-keeping and Meroitic Hieroglyphic, which was carved in stone or used for royal or religious documents. It is poorly understood, owing to the scarcity of bilingual texts.

Ancient Nubia and the Kingdom of Kush, an introduction

The first settlers in northern Sudan date back 300,000 years. It is home to the oldest sub-Saharan African kingdom, the kingdom of Kush (about 2500–1500 B.C.E.). This culture produced some of the most beautiful pottery in the Nile valley, including Kerma beakers.

Map of Kush and Ancient Egypt, showing the Nile up to the fifth cataract, and major cities and sites of the ancient Egyptian Dynastic period (c. 3150 BC to 30 BC) (map: Jeff Dahl, CC Y-SA 4.0)

Sudan was coveted for its rich natural resources particularly gold, ebony and ivory. Several objects in the British Museum collection are made of these materials. Ancient Egyptians were attracted southward seeking these resources during the Old Kingdom (about 2686–2181 B.C.E.), which often led to conflict as Egyptian and Sudanese rulers sought to control trade.

Kush was the most powerful state in the Nile valley around 1700 B.C.E. Conflict between Egypt and Kush followed, culminating in the conquest of Kush by Thutmose I (1504–1492 B.C.E.). In the west and south, Neolithic cultures remained as both areas were beyond the reach of the Egyptian rulers.

Kushite heartland and Kushite Empire of the 25th dynasty circa 700 B.C.E. (map: Lommes, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Egypt withdrew in the eleventh century B.C. E. and the Sudanese kings grew powerful. They invaded Egypt and ruled as Pharaohs (about 747–656 B.C.E.). At its greatest, their empire united the Nile valley from Khartoum to the Mediterranean. King Taharqo’s sphinx remains a testament to Kushite power and authority.

The Kushites were expelled from Egypt by the Assyrians, but their kingdom flourished in Sudan for another thousand years. Their monuments and art display a rich combination of Pharaonic, Greco-Roman and indigenous African traditions which may be seen in the chapel relief of Queen Shanakdhakete and aegis of Isis in the Museum collection.

Kerma ware pottery beaker, about 1750–1550 B.C.E., from Kerma, Sudan (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

Kerma ware pottery beaker

The cultures of Kerma flourished between about 2500 and 1500 B.C.E. Their most distinctive products were ceramics. The potters were able to produce incredibly fine vessels by hand, without using a wheel. The pot shown here belongs to the so-called ‘Classic Kerma’ phase, from around 1750 to around 1550 B.C.E. Classic Kerma pottery is characterized by a black top and a rich red-brown base, separated by an irregular purple-grey band. The black tops and interiors are usually extremely fine and have a distinctive metallic lustrous appearance.

Kerma remained independent during Egypt’s initial forays into Sudan. This situation changed after 1500 BC, when the Egyptians defeated the Kushites and began to administer the area via their representative, the ‘Viceroy of Kush’, based at Kerma.

Black polished incised ware cup, Late C-Group Culture, 1700–1500 B.C.E., from Cemetery 2 at Faras, Sudan (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

Black polished incised ware cup

The handmade pottery produced by C-Group craftsmen is highly distinctive. Although some forms are comparable to Egyptian types of the same period, others are quite different. These show a strong African influence.

This cup has features characteristic of the African-influenced group known as ‘polished incised ware’. The cup has a round bottom and is bowl-shaped, though it is small enough to be considered a cup. Vessels of this shape were probably designed to hold food and drink. The African influence is shown most clearly in the cup’s decoration. The exterior is incised with diamonds filled in with cross hatching, perhaps derived from designs used in basket work. Other motifs include herringbone patterns and other geometric shapes of smooth and incised areas.

The incised decoration was applied to the pot before the clay was dry. The vessel was fired to leave a black or sometimes a red finish, which was highly polished. Finally, white pigment was rubbed into the incisions to make the pattern stand out. The remains of the white pigment can be seen in some areas on this cup, but most is now lost.

Sesebi and Egyptian domination

Perfume jar, 18th dynasty, found in a cemetery in Sesebi, southern Nubia (Sudan), 13 cm (© Trustees of the British Museum)

This beautiful vase was found in a plundered part of the cemetery at Sesebi in southern Nubia. It is an excellent example of the use of faience in a color other than blue. Decoration has been added to the cream body in blue and black, in the form of two friezes of lotus petals at the base and neck, with lotus buds hanging down the vase itself is in the shape of a lotus bud.

From around 1560 until 1070 B.C.E. the Egyptians took possession of all Nubian lands as far as the Fourth Cataract of the Nile. The newly won land was divided into two territories: Wawat in the north and Kush in the south. Resources were intensively exploited by the Egyptian empire. Many native inhabitants were recruited into Egyptian armies or employed as laborers on Egyptian civil and religious estates.

New towns and temples were built during the period of Egyptian domination, including Sesebi, founded during Akhenaten’s reign (1352–1336 B.C.E.). Many Nubians embraced the language, religion and forms of aesthetic expression of their overlords. This vase shows strong Egyptian influence in shape and style to ancient Egyptians the lotus was symbolic of rebirth and new life.

A powerful Kushite dynasty emerges

The Egyptians withdrew from Sudan around 1070 B.C.E. and by the ninth century a second powerful Kushite dynasty had emerged there. Taking advantage of instability and political disunity in Egypt, the Kushite king Kashta extended his control to Thebes in Egypt by the mid-eighth century B.C.E. His successor Piankhi (Piye) achieved complete control of the Egyptian Nile valley by around 716 B.C.E. He and his three successors, Shabaqo, Taharqo and Tamwetamani, were acknowledged as the legitimate sovereigns of Egypt, forming the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. Their capital was the important religious centre of Napata, near the Fourth Cataract of the Nile.

Kushite control of Egypt ended when Assyrian forces invaded between 674 and 663 B.C.E., but Kush remained a major power in Sudan for over a thousand years. After 300 BC, the Kushite rulers were buried at Meroe in a fertile grassland region northeast of Khartoum. Meroe became the centre of a flourishing economy and developed commercial links with the Mediterranean world. Art and architecture displayed Egyptian influence, but archaeology also points to a growth of local traditions. A strong local element was apparent in religion, with Nubian deities such as the lion-headed Apedemak appearing alongside the Egyptian Amun, Osiris and Isis. The Kushite dynasty ended around 350 C.E.

The large eyes are typical of Kushite art and the piece bears a cartouche of the Kushite ruler Arnekhamani (235–218 B.C.E.). Aegis of Isis, Kushite, late 3rd century B.C.E., from Kawa, Sudan (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

Ornamental head of a goddess, possibly Isis

The term aegis is used in Egyptology to describe a broad collar surmounted by the head of a deity, in this case a goddess, possibly Isis. Representations in temples show that these objects decorated the sacred boats in which deities were carried in procession during festivals. An aegis was mounted at the prow and another at the stern. The head of the deity identified the occupant of the boat and it is likely that this example came from a sacred boat of Isis.

The eyes and eyebrows of the goddess were originally inlaid. The large eyes, further emphasized by the inlay, are typical of later Kushite art. The rectangular hole in her forehead once held the uraeus, which identified her as a goddess. The surviving part of her head-dress consists of a vulture—the wing feathers can be seen below her ears. The vulture head-dress was originally worn by the goddess Mut, consort of Amun of Thebes, but became common for all goddesses. The rest of the head-dress for this aegis was cast separately and is now lost, but would have consisted of a sun disc and cow’s horns. The piece bears a cartouche of the Kushite ruler Arnekhamani (reigned about 235–218 B.C.E.), the builder of the Lion Temple at Musawwarat es-Sufra.

Burials of Kushite kings

Granite shabti of King Taharqa, 25th Dynasty, 664 BC, from the pyramid of Taharqa at Nuri, Nubia, 40.6 cm high (

The early Kushite kings were buried on beds placed on stone platforms in the tombs under their pyramids. These structures were based on the pyramids of Egyptian private tombs of the New Kingdom (about 1550–1070 B.C.E.), but the style of burial was entirely Kushite. King Taharqo (690–664 B.C.E.) introduced more Egyptian elements to the burial, such as mummification, coffins and sarcophagi of Egyptian origin, as well as the provision of shabti figures such as this. These figures were in the style of the Middle and New Kingdoms, the era that the Kushites considered the height of Egyptian culture. The use of stone and the rugged features of these large shabtis are characteristic of early examples.

During period of Kushite control of Egypt, the kings resided mainly at Memphis, and Kushite princesses were appointed to the religious office of ‘God’s Wife of Amun’. The Twenty-fifth Dynasty rulers—Piankhi, Shabaqo, Taharqo and Tamwetamani—brought much-needed stability to Egypt, which had been divided into small areas and governed by local dynasts. Art, architecture and religious learning were revived and Taharqo in particular was an active builder, constructing a number of temples in both Egypt and Nubia. However, it was during Taharqo’s reign that Assyrian invasions forced the Kushites out of Egypt. Control was regained by his successor Tamwetamani (664-656 B.C.E.) but quickly lost again.

Meroitic stela, Kushite period, about 24 B.C.E., from Hamadab, Sudan, 236.5 cm high (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

One of the longest known monumental texts in Meroitic

This stela is one of a pair found at Hamadab a few kilometers south of Meroe in Sudan, the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Kush. They stood either side of the main doorway into a temple.

Kushite rulers Queen Amanirenas and Prince Akinidad (detail), Meroitic stela, Kushite period, about 24 B.C.E., from Hamadab, Sudan, 236.5 cm high (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

At the top of the stela are the remains of a relief panel depicting the Kushite rulers Queen Amanirenas and Prince Akinidad. On the left they are shown facing a god, probably Amun, whilst on the right they are facing a goddess, probably Mut. Below this is a frieze depicting bound prisoners.

Meroitic stela, Kushite period, about 24 B.C.E., from Hamadab, Sudan, 236.5 cm high (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

An inscription in Meroitic cursive script is carved on the lower part of the stela. Meroitic was the indigenous language of the Kingdom of Kush. It is one of the few ancient languages yet to be deciphered. The alphabet consisted of 15 consonants, four vowels and four syllabic characters but the meaning of the words is not known.

In this inscription, the names of Amanirenas and Akinidad are recognizable. It is thought that Amanirenas was the Kushite ruler during the Kushite conflicts against the Romans in the late first century B.C.E. This inscription may commemorate a Kushite raid on Roman Egypt in 24 B.C.E.

Head of Augustus, c. 27–25 B.C.E. bronze, from Meroë, Sudan, 46.20 x 26.5 cm (© Trustees of the British Museum)

A number of Roman imperial statues were taken during this raid, possibly including a bronze head of Augustus which was found in Meroë and is now held in the Museum’s collection.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Additional resources:

Isma’il Kushkush, “In the Land of Kush,” Smithsonian Magazine (Sep 2020)

S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)

S. Wenig, Africa in antiquity: the arts, Vol II, exh. cat. (Brooklyn, N.Y., Brooklyn Museum, 1978)

M.F. Laming Macadam, The temples of Kawa (Oxford, 1949 (vol. I) 1955 (vol. II))

S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)

Nigel Strudwick, Masterpieces of Ancient Egypt (London, British Museum Press, 2006)

The Linthorpe Art Pottery was a born of a collaboration between the leading Orientalist and designer Christopher Dresser and local businessman, John Harrison, who was the proprietor of the Sun Brick Works based in Linthorpe village. The men are said to have had a prior acquaintance and that Dresser suggested to him that he might profitably re-purpose his brickworks into the production of ceramics that had not previously been attempted in Europe. It is also claimed that they sought to alleviate some of the conditions of unemployment in Middlesbrough, which was a consequence of the Long Depression and its dependence on the iron and steel industries for employment. [2]

Harrison undertook an initial pilot in 1879, which presumably ran alongside the existing brickworks, with Dresser acting as Art Superintendent, designing the new Linthorpe Ware a thrower was drafted from the Issac Wilson and Co Pottery in Middlesbrough the first firing was overseen by the kiln manager from the William Smith pottery in Stockton. [3] Following this initial success Harrison decided to expand production and Dresser recommended the hiring of Henry Tooth, an artist from Buckinghamshire who was then working on the Isle of Wight as a suitable manager for the pottery. Having no previous ceramic experience he spent some time training at the T G Green Pottery in Derbyshire. [4]

The pottery was innovative in its use of the local red brick clay, previously used by the brickworks, which was supplemented by white clay imported from Cornwall by the mid-1880s. [5] [6] It was also the first pottery in the country to use gas-powered kilns to fire the ceramics, which allowed it to experiment with running and special effect glazes for which it became well known. This combined with the designs of Dresser, who designed over a 1,000 individual pieces for the pottery during their collaboration, many of which can now be found in collections as wide-ranging as the Dorman Museum in Linthorpe, the British Museum, [7] the Victoria and Albert Museum [8] the Metropolitan Museum of Art [9] the Cooper–Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Between 1880 and 1881 Harrison issued a prospectus proposing to establish a Linthorpe Art Works Company, which would also produce wallpapers, glass and beaten and decorative metals. It was hoped to issue a 1,000 shares at £5 per share, raising £50,000, however, no public offering was ever made and it is after the failure of this proposal that the collaboration with Dresser, who would have received shares had the venture succeeded, seems to have waned. [10] Henry Tooth, who was named as manager of the proposed works in the prospectus, left in early 1882 to establish the Bretby Pottery [11] [10] with William Ault and was succeeded in his role by Richard Patey.

Linthorpe Art Pottery achieved national and international recognition starting in 1882 when it was exhibited at the Society of Arts Exhibition of Modern English Pottery [2] [12] in 1883 it was shown at the Calcutta International Exhibition and was awarded a bronze medal in 1884 it was shown at the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans and was awarded a bronze medal and in 1885 it was shown at the International Inventions Exhibition of 1885 in South Kensington, where it received both a Diploma of Merit and a Gold Medal, and where Princess Alexandra is said to have purchased a turquoise vase, exciting considerable interest in the pottery by the general public.

The pottery ran into difficulties in the late 1880s, due in part to the rising cost of materials and saturation of the market by similar products produced by the Bretby pottery formed by a partnership between potter William Ault and Henry Tooth, amongst others. [2] In 1889 John Harrison was made bankrupt by the collapse of the Onward Building Society and he succumbed to pneumonia shortly thereafter, dying at only 45. [13] His estate allowed the pottery to continue into 1890 as a going concern, however, it was finally closed permanently when the works were sold by public auction on 10 April 1891.

Legacy Edit

The Christopher Dresser Society was established in 2013 following a £10,000 bequest made to Teesside University. [14] It aims to develop a wider recognition of the influence of Dresser's work, as well as creating a resource for further scholarship. It was launched on 20 June 2013 with a two-day symposium and a series of events hosted by the university and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.

Incense burner from Cemetery L, Tomb 24, at Qustul, on the east bank of the Nile near the Sudan border, A-Group, ca. 3100 BC. OIM E24069 (D. 017532).

The Robert F. Picken Family Nubian Gallery features one of the most complete collections of artifacts from Nubia (southern Egypt and northern Sudan) in the United States. Most of the objects were recovered by Oriental Institute excavations during the 1960s effort to document the history and heritage of these Africa kingdoms before the area was flooded by the Aswan High Dam. The gallery is arranged chronologically from about 3800 BC to the medieval period (approximately AD 1400). Highlights of the exhibits are the Qustul Incense Burner (ca. 3200 BC) – one of the earliest records of the kings of Nubia fine pottery from the A-Group (3800–3000 BC) figurines from the C-Group (ca. 1750 BC), a bronze statue of a Nubian king (ca. 700 BC), brightly painted Meroitic pottery (2nd century BC to 2nd century AD), an ornamented Nubian archer's quiver, and one of the oldest saddles in the world, both dating to about AD 400.

Extremely Rare Anna Pottery Pittston, PA Stoneware Pig Flask, "Anna Pottery Piggery"

PLEASE NOTE: This result is 2 years old, and the American ceramics market frequently changes. Additionally, small nuances of color, condition, shape, etc. can mean huge differences in price. Please Contact Us for a Current, Accurate assessment of your items.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our October 26 auction! Please see our latest News posting for notes about invoices, etc.

July 20, 2019 Auction Catalog

Extremely Rare Anna Pottery Stoneware Pig Flask with Pittston, PA Presentation, Wallace and Cornwall Kirkpatrick, Anna, IL, circa 1870s, molded flask in the form of a reclining pig with incised face and hooves, hole in rear, and anatomically-correct underside, the surface covered in a dark-brown Albany slip glaze. Incised on one side with the presentation inscription, "From / Geo Burns. CAIRO Ills / To / Lute, Welch. Pittston, Pa. / With a little good old Bourbon in". Remainder of pig incised with a railroad map of the Midwest, including the following landmarks: St. Louis the future Capital in, Miss River, Grand Tower, Sandoval, Odin, Centralia, Carbondale, Jonesboro, Mounds, Cairo in, Anna Pottery & Piggery, Ohio River, Cincinnati the ancient Porkopolis, and Chicago the Corn Crib of the World. This pig's inscription, stating both the presenter and recipient of the flask, is highly unusual. Both men appear in the 1870 federal census in their respective towns, Luther Welch as a 29-year-old railroad dispatcher in Pittston, PA George Burns as an engineer in Cairo, Illinois. This dual-name inscription is made even rarer by the recipient's Pittston, Pennsylvania location, as this flask is the first example bearing the name of a Pennsylvania resident that we have seen. Also of note is the rare and charming notation on the pig's haunch, "Anna Pottery & Piggery". Among the most unusual Anna Pottery pig flasks we have offered in the past several years. Loss to one ear. An in-the-firing line to underside of chin, with some shallow chipping along it. L 7 1/4".

Best for Sharing: High Camp Firelight Flask

Well-suited for taking on a quick hike, camping trip, or to the park, this share-ready flask from High Camp comes equipped with everything you need to split a drink with friends. The flask comes with two, six-shooter tumblers that attach seamlessly to the body of the flask using a magnetic locking system—the world’s first magnetic flask built for the outdoors. Each cup attaches to the BPA- and phthalate-free stainless steel flask. The lid is equipped with a leak-proof stainless steel plug cap with a silicone seal.

This double-wall vacuum-insulated flask holds 750mL—enough to hold an entire bottle of wine, whiskey, or your spirit of choice. Its leak-proof design also means you can pack the flask anywhere without worrying about your hiking clothes smelling like rum.

Good to Know:
Be cautious of the flasks you purchase. Many are made in bulk, constructed with cheap metals that don’t meet food safety standards. Paying a little extra can go a long way, and look for stainless steel: an inexpensive alloy that is corrosion-resistant and lightweight.

Historical Reproductions

My historical line came into existence over twenty years ago as I discovered and became involved with Living History reenactors. Fellow reenactors observed the period pottery I produced for myself and began asking me to supply them with pieces. Thus my profession combined with my new hobby.

Most pottery used by the early European colonial immigrants was produced in Europe and Asia. Gradually potteries sprang up in larger cities along the eastern coast. Most were short lived, but as one closed another would start. Early potteries produced only earthenware, a lower fired type of pottery. Eventually stoneware potteries were started as higher firing kilns were introduced. Stoneware is a sturdier clay body and does NOT need to be glazed with lead glazes, as earthenware did.

All of my period pieces are high fired stoneware. Durable and sturdy. I hope you enjoy the selection.

I am always on the look out for other period pieces, so if you have any suggestions, let me know.

Appraisal Details

Understanding Our Appraisals

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.


     These pages are designed to give some clear images about the ancient Nubian art during the time of its binary Kingdoms of Napata and Meroe ( from 760 B.C., until the end of Meroitic Kingdom in 350 A.D. approximately ) .          

      It dissects the Nubian style of art to have new vision about it, to reveal the ancient interaction of Nubia with the outside world from the direction of Egypt and the Mediterranean, by the help of the Nubian masterpieces in different Museums and the main locations in the lands of Sudan.

      T hese pages are reflecting how the Nubians created their own version of civilization, which include:

1- The civilization of Egypt in the period of the New Kingdom and the later times of the Hellenistic Roman control.

2- The African influence, which appeared in the physical appearance of the Kushite queens, which is clear until now in the whole lands of Africa (From West Africa in the region of Nigeria, there are different elements from the sculpture of Nok culture influenced the products of the Kushite kingdoms).

3-   All of these influences are amalgamated together and appeared in different Nubian masterpieces with its local hereditary of traditions from the Mesolithic times till the end of the flowering period of Meröe .


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