University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Painted Jar [Object of the Day #93]

By: Josef Wegner


Painted jar from Karanog. The site of Karanog was located in Lower (or Northern) Nubia, now entirely flooded beneath Lake Nasser. In 1907-1912 this region was the focus for the first excavations of the Eckley Coxe Jr. Expedition of the Penn Museum. Karanog was once a flourishing town, and the administrative capital of Lower Nubia, during the Meroitic Kingdom (ca. 300 BCE ? 300 CE). This painted jar comes from one of the many wealthy tombs in the Karanog cemetery. Meroitic Nubia had a sophisticated tradition of painted pottery which incorporates geometric designs as well as figural images: humans, animals and plants. Meroitic artists also used Egyptian style images and symbols. This charming object has a frieze of serpents on the shoulder, and grazing giraffes on the midsection. The artist hasĀ  depicted the giraffes in a slightly cumbersome way and with bovine elements, suggesting the artist may have never seen a living giraffe. At that time giraffes only lived much further south in the savannah lands of southern Nubia.

Penn Museum Object #E8183

See this and other objects like it on Penn Museum’s Online Collection Database

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