Bes jar sherd

Accession Number
Current Location
House of Death (ground floor), Domestic piety case
Object Type
Receptacle/vessel, Jar
New Kingdom
Pottery (Nile silt)
Egypt, Thebes/Luxor, Deir el-Medina
Height: 95mm | Width: 95mm | Depth: 11mm
Number of Elements
Divine Name

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A fragment of a Nile silt pottery jar with a depiction of the god Bes on the exterior. His face is created using four shallow horizontal lines for the forehead, with his eyebrows and eyelids formed by arches: five arches on the left and two on the right. The eyes are concave oval shapes, with smaller ovals inside to form the pupils. The nose is triangular, connected to a downcurved arch; the triangle and arch protrude from the surface (7mm). The tongue is sticking out under the nose, created by a semi-circle 25mm in length. Fragments of the outline of the face are preserved, created by a thick line (8mm), and on the top right an ear is preserved. The ear is a semi-circle attached to the face outline and 25mm in width. The surface of the vessel is covered in abrasions. The vessel was wheel-made, as is evident from the throwing marks on the interior. Throughout the matrix are limestone inclusions, each about 1mm in length and width. Such vessels probably contained wine or milk and date to the New Kingdom. This object was purchased by Sir Henry Wellcome in 1906 from the collection of Robert de Rustafjaell. Writing on the reverse, in blue, suggests that Rustafjaell collected the sherd from the site of Deir el-Medina.

Munsell Chart reading

Exterior: 10R 5/4 - Weak red


Anonymous. 1996. The face of Egypt: Swansea Festival exhibition: 5 October 1996–5 January 1997. Swansea: Glynn Vivian Art Gallery. [Cat. 69] Kaiser, Kevin Robert 2006. Water, milk, beer and wine for the living and the dead: Egyptian and Syro-Palestinian Bes-vessels from the New Kingdom through the Graeco-Roman period. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Dissertation Services. Stevens, Anna 2006. Private religion at Amarna: the material evidence. BAR International Series 1587. Oxford: Archaeopress. [pp. 31–34]

Other Identity
W1284 (previous number written on the reverse) | W1072 (previous number written on the reverse) | W1701 (previous number written on the reverse) | 25A (rectangular label with blue border)
Sotheby, Wilkinson, & Hodge: 19–21 Dec 1906
Previous Owners
Robert de Rustafjaell (1859–1943) | Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853–1936)
Long-term loan, The Wellcome Trust (15 Feb 1971)
1996–1997, 05 Oct–05 Jan. Swansea, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and Museum, 'The Face of Egypt'
Last modified: 16 Apr 2022

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