Conference Paper "The Curious Contents of Combed Ware Storage Jars from Giza"

  • Margaret Serpico (Invited speaker)
  • Richard Newman (Invited speaker)
  • Sowada, K. (Invited speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation


Over the years, there has been considerable speculation on the likely contents of Levantine two-handled Combed Ware storage jars imported into Egypt in the Early Bronze Age. Most often, oils and resins, notably coniferous resin, have been suggested as possible commodities, but apart from analysis by Alfred Lucas in the 1950’s, little scientific research has been carried out on the vessels themselves.
As part of a wider investigation of these vessels (led by Dr Karin Sowada, Macquarie University), it has been possible to sample and analyse the contents of a selection of jars from Reisner’s excavations at Giza, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. However, during study of the jars, it quickly became apparent that the contents had been disturbed both in ancient and modern times, presenting a number of challenges for scientific analysis and interpretation of the results. This paper discusses the complex mixtures identified in these jars within the framework of this complicated life-cycle.

This work dovetails with ongoing botanical and pollen analyses of the jar contents; study of their archaeological contexts; and petrographic and chemical examination of the clays used in their manufacture. The aim is to provide a wider picture of the Egyptian-Levantine liquid commodities trade during this time, the exchange of valuable natural products, and the role of the jars themselves as symbols of status.
Period20 May 2021
Event titleEgypt and the Mediterranean World in the Late Fourth through the Third Millennium BCE Conference
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational