Requires Photography

Small cup

Napatan to Meroitic Period
about 750 B.C.–A.D. 320

Findspot: Nubia (Sudan), Gebel Barkal, Building (Temple) B 800-900, room 801


Overall: 4.5 x 4.7 cm (1 3/4 x 1 7/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World



This very small cup has convex sides that bulge outward from the base to a wide mouth. It is hand-made with rather rough shaping.

Very small vessels such as this cup are common in grave, tomb, and temple contexts where they could be presented with offerings or as model offerings in and of themselves. They are thus often called “model vessels.” They are most often made of medium to coarse grades of clay, and shaping is often poor and irregular. Frequent irregularities or asymmetry in shaping reflect fast work and mass production. Knife-cut or cord-cut bases are common, though rounded bases occur as well. Some are simply twisted or pinched off at the base, leaving an awkward base that does not allow the cup to stand upright on its own.


From Nubia (Sudan) Gebel Barkal, Building (Temple) B 800-900, room 801 (collumned hall). 1916: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of the Sudan.

(Accession Date: August 18, 2006)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition