Lotiform cup

Napatan Period, reigns of Anlamani to Aspelta
623–568 B.C.

Findspot: Nubia (Sudan), Nuri, Pyramid 27 ( Queen Madiken), NW foundation dep.


Overall: 7.8 x 7.5 cm (3 1/16 x 2 15/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Foundation deposits

This small cup is made of a somewhat coarse, light reddish clay fabric It has a lotiform body with straight to very slightly concave sides, expanding towards the top to a flaring straight rim. The lower body constricts before the base splays outward to form a slight foot.

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” or, also because of their use in offering contexts, “libation cups.” They are most often made of medium to coarse grades of clay, and both hand-made and wheel-made examples (as with this example) occur. Shaping is often poor and irregular even when formed on a wheel. Frequent irregularities and asymmetry reflect fast work and mass production.

This example is housed with a sample of soil/sand/debris found within the cup. Some is somewhat consolidated and still in the vessel itself.


From Nuri, Pyramid 27 (tomb of Queen Madiken), NW foundation deposit. 1918: 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 21, 2006)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition