|Fig. 1: W1358|
W1358 represents the body of a New Year’s flask, with the just neck of the vessel missing. It has been suggested that the slightly squashed disc shape of the body of the vessel represents the sun, a symbol of rebirth. Around the shoulders of the flask are incised bands of floral patterns, meant to echo the vegetal collar that would have been worn by a participant in a ceremonial or festival event. Hieroglyphs on the sides of the vessel read as 𓄋 𓆳 𓄤 𓈗 (wpt rnpt nfrt), the Egyptian equivalent to our “Happy New Year” (fig. 1). Unfortunately, it is currently unknown who Sir Henry Wellcome purchased this flask from, although it was possibly from the MacGregor collection sold in 1922.
|Fig. 2: Wellcome slip 32802|
The five neck fragments (W1359–W1360, W1362–W1364) do, however, originate from the MacGregor collection, although their acquisition history is a little more complicated. They were purchased as part of lot 466 (sixteen objects) at Sotheby’s auction house on the 17 December 1924 for the modest fee of 15 shillings. The auction catalogue and the flimsy slip in the Wellcome archives (numbers 32802 & 32803) indicate that this lot was originally part of the MacGregor collection (fig. 2). Unfortunately, this lot falls under the category of “other properties” in the auction catalogue, thus making it difficult to identify the seller. Further research is needed in order to identify the lot number of the MacGregor collection.
|Fig. 3: W1359|
W1359 is the best preserved of the neck fragments in the Egypt Centre (fig. 3). Two squatting baboons flank the tall neck, which is made to echo a bundle of papyrus and lotus plants. Baboons were symbols of rebirth, welcoming the sun as it arose each day. Two baboons are also preserved on the neck of W1360 (fig. 4), while only one is present on W1362 (fig. 5) The baboons are missing from both W1363 (fig. 5) and W1364, with the tall neck fragment of the latter being particularly well shaped (fig. 6).
|Fig. 4: W1360|
|Fig. 5: W1362|
|Fig. 6: W1363|
|Fig. 7: W1364|
So, on behalf of everyone at the Egypt Centre, we wish you all a wpt rnpt nfrt!
Blanquet, C.-H. (1992) ‘Typologie de la bouteille de Nouvel An’. In Amosiadès: mélanges offerts au Professeur Claude Vandersleyen par ses anciens étudiants, ed. C. Obsomer and A.-L. Oosthoek. Louvain-la-Neuve: Université catholique de Louvain. 49–54.
Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge (1922) Catalogue of the MacGregor Collection of Egyptian Antiquities. London: Davy.
Sotheby, W. H. (1924) Catalogue of Egyptian, Greek, Roman & Babylonian antiquities, etc., comprising first and second day’s sale the collection of Egyptian antiquities, formed by the Hon. R. Bethell, third day’s sale the property of Captain Anthony Hamilton ..., part of the collection formed by the late Gustave Natorp, an Egyptian bronze solar boat for processional use, the collection formed by the late Joseph Offord, the property of H. Edwin, a bronze head of Athena wearing helmet, the property of Edward F. Elton and other properties; which will be sold by auction by Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge ... on Monday, 15th of December, 1924, and two following days. London: Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge.
Yamani, S. (2002) ‘New Year’s bottles from Tell Marqula (Dakhla Oasis)’. Bulletin de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale 102: 425–436.