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  • Date:

    2nd century AD (made)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Glazed composition, more commonly known as faience, is an artificial ceramic material composed predominantly of crushed quartz, alongside small amounts of alkali or lime. The unfired material can be moulded by hand, thrown or poured into moulds, and hardens when fired. The term faience is actually a misnomer, as the ancient Egyptian material is completely unrelated to the glazed ceramics made in Faenza, Italy, from which the name derives. For this reason, ‘glazed composition’ is more properly used to describe the material. Faience has been produced in Egypt since at least the 4th Millennium BC, where it was initially employed for producing jewellery and amulets in imitation of precious stone. However, production also developed to encompass vessels, most famously the so-called ‘marsh bowls’ of the late Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom. Ptolemaic and Roman faience vessels represent a continuation of this manufacturing tradition, but also demonstrate typological and technological developments, with increasing use of wheel-thrown manufacture testifying to close links between faience and ceramic production. Ptolemaic and Roman faience vessels are characterised by heavy use of moulding and high relief decoration. Earlier Ptolemaic vessels often have lighter and finer decoration, with Roman vessels typically bolder or deeper incised, although still employing similar motifs and styles. As well as the continuing manufacture of monochrome vessels, increasing numbers from this period demonstrate polychrome decoration, often two-tone green, green and blue, white and purple or white and brown. The contrast of colours is used to emphasise relief details, or differentiate interior and exterior surfaces. In the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods, Memphis was a major centre of faience production. Flinders Petrie’s excavations of the faience kilns at Kom Hellul in the Southern part of the site, in the early 1900s, have informed much of our knowledge of faience ware production of this time.


2nd century AD (made)

Marks and inscriptions



Height: 7 cm Maximum height, Length: 29.5 cm, Thickness: 0.7 cm Thickness of fabric

Object history note

440-1891 to 559-1891 inclusive purchased for 12l 6s from W. M. Flinders Petrie.

Production Note

Excavated ar Karanis


Ceramics Collection

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