This striking ceramic vessel is a superb example of Canaanite domestic pottery traditions. Shaped in a globular form, the vessel has a wide base and a narrow, constricted neck with a flared rim. One side bears a small lug handle, directly opposite a long, cylindrical pouring spout. The ground is intermittently dark brown and grey with hatched detailing on the upper half, along with calcareous concretions testifying to a long period of interment. The precise role of the vessel is difficult to determine without XRF or sedimentary analysis, although the size, shape and level of adornment makes it likely to be a domestic dispensing vessel, for serving wine, oil or water to small-medium sized groups. The Canaanites are renowned for pieces such as this: their artistic heritage is characterised by well-proportioned, harmonious and subtle compositions, and an evident enjoyment of aesthetic forms, even in everyday objects.
The Canaanites were one of the ‘tribal’ groups of what was to become Israel, Palestine and Jordan, who had their cultural roots in the Neolithic revolution when agriculture became the standard economy in the Near East. By the Bronze Age the stability of the area and their position between great trading powers – notably Egypt and Mesopotamia – made them prosperous and culturally diverse, and was a high point for artistic creation. The culture contracted with economic issues suffered by Egypt and the Mesopotamians, and went through a collapse at the end of the Bronze Age due to a combination of ‘Sea People’ invasions, environmental meltdown and internal troubles in Egypt leading to loss of infrastructure throughout the Near East. Their resurgence of power in the Iron Age was matched by that of the Ammonites and Moabites, among others, and the region eventually came under control of the Neo-Assyrians by the mid 8th century B.C.E.. This piece is typical in its geometric simplicity and harmonious use of colour – it is a mature and impressive piece of ancient art.
Cf. Amiran, R., Ancient Pottery of the Holy Land, pp. 47-49