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A Levantine Ram-Shaped Vessel

description:   This is a magnificent strainer vessel on the shape of a ram, well published and provenanced from a world-famous collection.

Whereas most animal-shaped vessels were primarily animal representations and only secondly containers, this vessel shows proof of the opposite. The centre of the vessel is the wheel-made barrel, and the head, legs and tail were added later.

The vessel was probably used to serve drinks at banquets, and as such was an early example of the luxury goods that wealthy households liked to acquire.

On the back of the vessel is a wheel-made strainer by which the liquids (probably beer) were filtered while the vessel was being filled, to remove the still remaining spelt. The head functioned as the spout of the vessel, the liquids being poured out of the mouth of the animal. A broad handle connects the rim of the strainer with the animal’s neck.

Animal-shaped vessels had been common in the Near East since the Chalcolithic Period, well into the 4th millennium BC, but barrel-shaped vessels like this one became only popular at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC; many have been found at sites in Jerusalem, Megiddo, Lachish, Gezer or Tell Jemmeh in Palestine (closely comparable to this piece), and Phoenicia, but some have also appeared in Luristan and even as far to the west as Ibiza. Most of them were found in tombs.

Levant, Iron Age II, ca. 1000 – 700 BC.

published:   Alan. S. Walker (ed.), Animals in Ancient Art from the Leo Mildenberg Collection, Part III (Mainz am Rhein, 1996), p. 162-164, no III, 256 and colour plate 24.
provenance:   Leo Mildenberg Collection
dimensions:   Height 22.5 cm; length 26.2 cm
material:   Fine buff clay (10YR 7/4) with light greyish-green slip (5Y 8/3), tempered with sand and chaff.
condition:   Wheel and hand made. Well fired, surface smoothed. Right hind leg broken and repaired; two tiny chips to the mouth of the animal, and some tiny chips to the rim of the strainer, as visible on the photographs; else intact.
price:   € 3,250   (excluding shipping and VAT where applicable)
stock number:   A0341


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