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Horn-shaped flask with gold bands

Horn-shaped flask with gold bands

Horn-shaped flask with gold bands

Elephant ivory

L: 46 cm

Israel Antiquities Authority


Archaeology/Chalcolithic & Canaanite Periods

In a palace built at Megiddo in the Late Canaanite period, in a small chamber (Room 3100), excavators unearthed a hoard of magnificent objects hidden beneath the floor. Notable among the finds was this perfume flask. The richness of the hoard and the nature of the objects it contained suggest that it belonged to a princess of the royal house at Megiddo.

The flask retains the shape of the tusk from which it is made, with a female head forming the narrow end. Part of the head is missing but most probably a spoon made of ivory or wood was inserted. The broad end was closed by a disk made of ivory or wood. This type of flask is extremely rare.

In Egypt the all-important oil flask was used by men and women of all classes during the New Kingdom (16th-12th century BCE). A Syrian invention, it is shown much earlier in a wall fresco found at Mari. An ivory example is depicted on a tomb fresco, represented as imported into Egypt in the Eighteenth Dynasty (16th-13th century BCE) by an envoy from the north. This type of object enjoyed a wide and lasting vogue, since anointing the head and body with refreshing oils gained paramount symbolic and even ritual significance, appropriate to royalty in ancient Syria and Palestine. The Museum's ivory oil flask from Megiddo is a splendid example.

From the Israel Museum publications:

The Israel Museum, Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2005

Digital presentation of this object was made possible by:
The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir