The two-handled Combed jar is a ubiquitous hallmark of Levantine trade during the Early Bronze Age. Many such jars are known from Old Kingdom Egypt, primarily from tombs at Giza and elsewhere. Thin-section petrography and elemental characterisation reveals that during the early Old Kingdom at least, jars were imported from coastal Lebanon between Beirut and Tripoli. Yet little is known about their contents. Textual evidence indicates that jars were associated with the importation of oils, notably ‘š-oil (coniferous oil or resin) and sefetj-oil, but the scientific basis of this identification is slender.
This paper reports on a collaborative program of multi-proxy scientific analysis on residues from Old Kingdom Combed jars. A large corpus of material dating from the early Fourth to the late Sixth Dynasty is held in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, with a small number of vessels located in other collections. The dataset reveals a degree of diversity in the residues as suggested by the texts, and the likelihood of secondary re-use of various jars once the primary product had been emptied.
6 Aug 2019
Dept of Archaeology Seminar Series, University of Sydney, Australia