Small offering bowl/cup

Meroitic Period (?)
270 B.C.–A.D. 320

Findspot: Nubia (Sudan), Gebel Barkal, Great Temple of Amun, room 518


Overall: 4.4 x 7.7 cm (1 3/4 x 3 1/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World



Common in grave, tomb, and temple contexts, small vessels such as this example are often called “offering bowls/cups” or, because of their small size, “model bowls.” In ancient times they could be used for the presentation of offerings at a tomb or temple, as model offerings in and of themselves, in rituals, etc. Some were also employed as lids for jars with mouths of appropriate diameter. Such dishes/lids are most often made of medium to coarse grades of clay. Knife-cut or cord-cut bases are common, though rounded bases occur as well. Frequent irregularities or asymmetry in shaping reflect fast work and mass production. This example is taller than many such offering dishes, with flaring sides and a prominent base that splays outwards slightly almost like a small foot.


From Nubia (Sudan) Gebel Barkal, Great Temple of Amun, room 518. 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 16, 2006)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition