Strap Handled Amphora

Egyptian, Dynasty 18 Calcite ("Egyptian Alabaster") Gift in honor of Catherine Howett Smith’s 25th Year of Service

During the sumptuous age of Egypt's great empire, exquisitely crafted stone vases were produced to contain cosmetic oils, creams, and perfumes. Only the impervious stone could safely contain these costly substances in the era before glass vessels became common.

As befitted their use as luxury items these containers were made from beautiful stones and carved in sleek, exotic shapes. This piece takes its form from the pottery strap handled amphora that were produced on the island of Cyprus and imported into Egypt. The translucent stone, found in Egypt was confused with the alabaster of Italian fame and is actually a form of the mineral calcite. This vase was given an extraordinarily high polish, a feature that is found only on the finest of stone vessels made for the members of the royal family and the elite.