Limestone Etruscan funerary urn, 104 x 75 cm, late 3rd century B.C, Italy.
This object is one of five ash urns found in a tomb of the Velsi family of ancient Chiusi. This urn is the largest and best preserved of the group. Its inscription, “FASTIA VELSI LARZL, VELUS PUIA,” which extends across the front and part of the left end of the lid, identifies the cremated remains as those of “Fastia Velsi, wife of Larza Velu.” - mfa.org
Painted limestone stela, ca. 1353-1336 BC, El-Amarna, Egypt.
This limestone stela shows King Akhenaten and his family as a “Holy Family.” It is considered to be an icon and was intended to be kept in a private chapel of an Amarna house. The stela, topped by the cavetto cornice, is decorated with a scene of an intimate moment from the daily life of the royal family under the protection of Aten. - globalegyptianmuseum.org
Limestone sculpture, Imperial Period, A.D. 150–200, Syria.
An elaborate Palmyrene funerary monument with a Greek inscription “Aththaia, daughter of Malchos, Happy One, Farewell”. Although the Greek inscription betrays her Hellenic affinities, her face and the details of carving are thoroughly Eastern. The incised relief line of the eyebrows and the rubbery folds of the neck foreshadow Graeco-Buddhist sculpture in northern and northwestern India, and central Asia. The carving of the chiton (tunic) and himation is expertly handled, but the number of tight zigzag folds also foreshadows Late Antique and Byzantine art. - mfa.org (text and photo)
Red-figures Lucanian pottery, ca. AD 400. Museo Nazionale Archeologico, Italy.
A youthful Dionysos, seated on a rock and wearing high fur-lined boots, fancy head-dress and only a mantle over his thighs , watches a maenad dance to the pipes. Behind him a female wearing an animal skin over a long-sleeved, short-skirted dress and high boots, holds a torch over his head and a situla. A stayr, at ease, watches. - beazley.ox.ac.uk
Wooden Shabti of Tutankhamun; wood, gold, paint and copper alloy. Dynasty 18, reign of Tutankhamun (1332–1323 B.C.), Thebes, Valley of the Kings, tomb of Tutankhamun.
The shabtis and their tools (hoes, mattocks and baskets attached to yokes) are linked to an important belief about Osiris’ kingdom. Osiris is the god of the dead and the bondsman of the deceased’s survival after his death. It was believed that Osiris could summon his subjects - including the deceased king - to work in his fields or accomplish another manual task for him. In order to deal with this possibility, dozens of shabtis were placed in the king’s tomb: these little statuettes were meant to replace the king when he would be summoned by Osiris. In Tutankhamun’s tomb, for instance, there was a shabti for each day in a year and a few shabtis monitors.
Alabaster canopic jar lid with glass and stone inlays, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, late reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1340–1336 B.C. Western Thebes, Egypt.
Canopic jars were used to store the four internal organs that were removed during mummification. Although intended for a funerary context, the face on this canopic jar lid was carved by a master with the skill and care one might expect in a more public portrait. - metmuseum.org
Two bronze dōtaku (ritual bells), Yayoi period (about 300 BC-AD 300), Japan.
The origin of the dōtaku is thought to be the Chinese cattle bell. However, the Japanese did not practise cattle farming, so the first bells must have been imported as ritual objects. The fact that they are often found buried on isolated hill-sides and show evidence of having been buried and dug up several times, suggests their use in an agricultural ritual. - britishmuseum.org
Faience statuette of a hippopotamus, Middle Kingdom - 12th Dynasty, 1981–1885 BC, Egypt.
This well-formed statuette of a hippopotamus demonstrates the Egyptian artist’s appreciation for the natural world. It was molded in faience, a ceramic material made of ground quartz. Beneath the blue-green glaze, the body was painted with the outlines of river plants, symbolizing the marshes in which the animal lived. - metmuseum.org