This clay pot is an artifact from ancient Egypt. It is predynastic, the earliest period in Egyptian history. The pot was created during what is known as the Naqada II period (3500-3200 BCE), long before the pyramids were built.

This pot was probably made without use of a pottery wheel. The potter most likely pressed the damp clay between his or her hand and a large, flat tool held in the other hand. This created a thin-walled vessel, which could be easily carried and stored.

The decoration on the pot is typical of the Naqada II style. The top decoration is a large boat with many oars. The birds below the boat are probably flamingos, common wading birds. These decorations illustrate the importance of the Nile River to the Naqada II culture.

  1. This pot is made out of clay. Where did the ancient Egyptian potter probably obtain his or her clay?

    • Answer

      The banks of the Nile River probably provided the clay used to make this pot.

  2. Why doesn't the decoration on the pot resemble the hieroglyphs or tomb paintings associated with the Egyptian pyramids?

    • Answer

      This pot was made by the Naqada II culture, hundreds of years before the pyramids were constructed.

  3. This pot was probably a carrying or storage vessel. What do you think ancient Egyptians kept in this pot?

    • Answer

      A large vessel like this could hold a wide variety of materials. The most likely uses were for water or other liquids (such as wine or beer) and foods, such as grains.

  4. The boat and flamingo decorations illustrate the importance of the Nile to Naqada II culture. How do you think the people of Naqada II depended on the Nile?

    • Answer

      The people of Naqada II probably relied on the Nile as their source of freshwater, for drinking, hygiene, and irrigation. The Nile also provided habitats for plants and animals used for food—such as the flamingos depicted on the pot. The people of Naqada II also used the Nile for trade, exploration, and communication. The Nile's role as a transportation corridor is represented by the boat.

ancient
Adjective

very old.

Noun

material remains of a culture, such as tools, clothing, or food.

clay
Noun

type of sedimentary rock that is able to be shaped when wet.

culture
Noun

learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

Nile River
Noun

(5,592 kilometers/3,473 miles) river in East Africa.

predynastic
Noun

period before the first major unification of Egypt, around 3100 BCE.

Pyramids
Plural Noun

three large pyramids outside Giza, Egypt: the Pyramid of Khufu (2560 BCE), the Pyramid of Khafre (2532 BCE) and the Pyramid of Menkaure (2515 BCE). Also called the Pyramids of Giza.

wading bird
Noun

bird with long, thin legs adapted for walking and feeding in shallow water.