The Potter in ancient Egypt

From the earlies times, Egyptian potters were mass producing containers for everyday activities such as cooking, drinking and food storage.

Ancient Egyptian earthernware vessel

 © Australian Museum

Potters produced clay pots on a slow-turning pottery wheel. Once complete, they smoothed the surface of the pot and dipped it into a dye bath for colour. They could then use a spatula or comb to scratch decorations into the surface.

Bowls and platters were used as everyday items and were also placed in tombs to ensure a ready supply of food and drink in the afterlife.

It was common, particularly in the Old Kingdom (2686–2181 BCE), to provide the dead person with model vessels. These were miniature versions of real ones, and served the same symbolic function of providing food and drink for the dead person in the afterlife. Artists usually made them from durable materials and rarely bothered to hollow them out.

Food offerings, which could be real or made of stone or clay, were often put on miniature tables.


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