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Exploring the Fascinating History of Prehistoric Nile Pottery with Hippo Motifs

Updated: Feb 17

Reproduction Details

Object Type: Cross-lined ware bowl

Date: c. 3850–3650 BC

Period: Predynastic, Naqada I

Findspot: Mesaid (Mesa'eed) tomb 26, no. 6 [M/26/6]

Dimensions: Height 6.8 x Diameter 19.4 cm

Material: Nile silt clay

Current location: Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Inventory number: 11.312

My reproduction of a prehistoric white cross-lined ware bowl from the Naqada I period (c. 3850–3650 BC). It depicts three stylised hippos gathered around a central rosette representing a pool of water with zigzag cliffs beyond representing the horizon.

Wild creatures such as hippos and crocodiles are often found depicted on this type of pottery found in graves and it’s thought they were intended to impart their powers on the vessels' owners, granting them success hunting and protection from danger in the afterlife.

Cross-lined ware was handmade of reddish Nile silt clay, burnished, coated with a thin red slip, and then decorated with linear patterns in thick, creamy white paint. Most of the best examples come from tombs, suggesting they may have been made specifically as funerary offerings.

Predynastic Art


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