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The tri-lobed Egyptian bowl

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posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 04:56 PM
Howdy all

In another thread this bowl was brought up and I didn't immediately remember what it was despite seeing it a number of years ago in the Egyptian museum and in collections of "unexplained oddities"..

A fringe site with a few leading comments

From the website "unforbiddenarcheaology" by Archae

Where did the odd thing come from?

The Tomb of Sabu and The Tri-lobed "Schist" Bowl

It appears to have been made of metasiltstone and not Schlist as previously thought. You will find a discussion of this at the end of the second website.

Possible Usage for Tri-lobed Bowl

Quoted from Archae's website:

Emery (1972) suggests that the artifact may have been carved in the imitation of a metal vessel's form, with a center hole that was originally designed to fit on a pedestal. Possible competition between metal and stone vessel artisans may have been one of the reasons for the development of artistic expression in ornamental stone vessel forms during the Early Dynastic Period (El-Khouli 1978). William Kay has suggested that the vessel was a ritualistic tri-flamed oil lamp, in which bundles of rushes, immersed in oil, acted as the wicks. These bundles of rushes were held in place by the lobes, and the vessel was suspended on a pedestal inserted through the center. Whether it was actually used for this purpose is uncertain. The fragile nature of such an intricately carved stone object greatly limits is practical usage and suggests a purely ornamental function, being of a religious or other such ritualistic purpose.

Although it has been suggested the vessel was meant to be held on a pedestal, the center tube may also have been used as a stand for holding another vessel or object. Smith (1981) has suggested that the center tube was a container. Tubes of rock were used by the ancient Egyptians to hold round-bottomed vessels, and there are many examples of these throughout the dynastic Egypt, including from the Early Dynastic Period (El-Khouli 1978).

Another object that resembles the tri-lobed bowl is a clay snakes figurine from the Nagada II period (Petrie c1974, Fig. 9, UC15361). The object consists of a round disk with four snakes, in which three are represented as raised heads (possibly cobras) orientated at 120 degrees around a central, round-shaped vessel with a fourth snake appearing to drink from it, and three horn-shaped indentations around the periphery. The three raised snakes each has an extra eye on their backs made of ostrich eggshell.

End quote

[edit on 29/7/08 by Hanslune]

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 05:04 PM
Adding a bit more

A similar bowl

Metasiltstone ornamental bowl with coring slot from the Step Pyramid, 3rd Dynasty.

From this site

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 05:26 PM
It certainly is odd. I saw the first couple pictures and thought "steering wheel."

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 05:34 PM
Howdy MoS

Steering wheel! Yeah that was my first reaction to it also. At 61cm (24") it's a bit big and being made of rock it might not be that usable - and no fastening mechanism!

Shows our modern bias. considering it was in the tomb of a noble I'd say it was a fancy piece of very difficult art work favored by the guy - or his wife.

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 05:59 PM

I swear, the first time I ever saw that, my reaction was "Wow! That must of been a massive square battery!"

[edit on 29-7-2008 by Dan Tanna]

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 06:07 PM
reply to post by Dan Tanna

Howdy Dan Tanna

I'm interested in your reply - does it look like something electrical?

Another thought was it looked like the moving parts of a insinkerator.

[edit on 29/7/08 by Hanslune]

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 06:10 PM
Square battery

Look at the terminal on the left of the battery. Same 'rolled' over edges, just three instead of four and a central 'core' to meet the inserted battery.

Very weird, and that was my first thought when i saw it!

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 06:16 PM
Ah yes I see what you mean now. Good insight. Hey even more modern bias showing up. I wonder what a hunter-gather would think? Probably some plant or animal imagery would come to their mind.

One person thought it looked like a propeller.

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 06:21 PM
I would guess it to be some sort of mixing, grinding, or pressing device. Possibly used in graineries or brewries. If so I would guess that it is upside down, but someone could turn it and therefore mix or smash something.

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 06:21 PM
I thought of a windmill or spinner to generate power. So it is very interesting that not just a bowl is seen. It does not really look like a bowl persay.

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 06:26 PM
One thing to remember it was found in the tomb of Lord Shabu. It was amongst those things he would have needed in the afterlife.

Or perhaps his treasures.

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 06:46 PM
I have no idea what it is, but I'm sure I've seen that shape somewhere before, or at least similar, what interests me is the way the lips curl inward, aswell as the hole through the middle. I always thought it was designed to spin.

On a side note, isnt the stone its made out of similar to slate? sure I've read that, how could they fashion that without 'splintering' the stone?


posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 06:51 PM
Howdy EMM

If you read the second site, the archae one it talks about how the material is especially suited for making such a bizarre thing.

Well here is the relevant passage from the website

In the past, some Egyptologists have use the term "schist" to describe this artifact (Emery 1949, Aldred 1981); others have identified the object as a slate (Smith 1981). The term schist was not being used in a modern geologic context (i.e. a medium- to coarse-grained foliated metamorphic rock), but was being used to describe a metasedimentary rock called a metasiltstone. This rock is essentially the sedimentary rock siltstone that has been very weakly metamorphosed.

It still retains its clastic sedimentary texture and has no visible schistosity. Metasiltstone is similar to slate, but is more coarse-grained and has no fissisity or slaty cleavage, making it a solid rock that does not easily fracture along discreet planes when struck. The weak metamorphism of siltstone indurates the rock and increases the cohesiveness of the mineral grains (i.e. rock hardness), making the rock less susceptible to fracture during carving.

This allows for fine detail and intricate shapes to be carved into vessels, statues, palettes, and other such objects. Metasiltstone as a material for vessel manufacturing came into use during the middle Predynastic and was used extensively during the Early Dynastic Period (Aston 1994).

Besides the tri-lobed bowl there are a number of intricately carved metasiltstone objects known from the Early Dynastic, such as a very ornate toilet tray (Fig. 8), flower-shaped vessels (e.g. 1st Dynasty, UC37063 -

Note: identified as greywacke but more likely metasiltstone, metagreywacke was not used until the Old Kingdom and not for vessels (Nicholson & Shaw 2000) -, vessels shaped as leaves (e.g. 1st - 2nd Dynasty, UC35653), vessels shaped to imitate basket-work (e.g. 1st - 2nd Dynasty, UC35654), vessels shaped as hieroglyphic symbols (e.g. 1st Dynasty, libation dish), and even used to imitate metal vessels (e.g. a stone vessel with simulated rivet-heads (Lauer 1976, pl. 109).

Many of these sophisticated and creative designs are unique to the Early Dynastic Period, showing a high degree of experimentation in artistic expression during this time.

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 07:25 PM
I was thinking of some of the bowls my mom buys for decoration, that are usually for incense or decorative lamps, pretty much like is guessed. I also think the center bit looks like a coffee can, personally.
If it had been used as such, I guess there would have been some residue of some kind, as well as some cracking in the stone as well. And since I guess this was a unique artifact, apparently, there are not any near similar (except maybe your example, Hanslune) artifacts to compare it to.
Based on the similar stuff I've seen for sale that my mom's bought, I'd say it's a incense lamp of some kind. But those are contemporary tourists trap stuff, so I can't say a definite.

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 07:31 PM
Thank you very much for the op
it is the first time I've ever seen this oddity,it certainly is strange and I can imagine no use it would have .
My first thoughts were that it was some kind of separator for seeds or grains but that does not seem likely .

posted on Jul, 29 2008 @ 10:14 PM
It isn't that uncommon, there are other bowls made of the same materials with the "lips" and curves but nothing exactly like the "steering wheel"!

Allegedly there are other pictures but they are in textbooks which I presently don't have access to.

Howdy Runespider

I think you and I are thinking in the same way. As far as I know the stone ware has never been looked at with modern tech, DNA sampling, usage determination (looking at small scratches to get an idea of what it was for), etc. Thinking about it more makes me think ir resembles an Ikebana stand- for Japanese flower arranging. You put sticky clay in the central part and place cut flowers into the clay.

Unfortunately it was probably cleaned with denatured alcohol when it was first recovered and a lot of data, recoverable now, may have been lost.

[edit on 29/7/08 by Hanslune]

posted on Jul, 30 2008 @ 02:01 AM

Originally posted by Hanslune
Adding a bit more

A similar bowl

Metasiltstone ornamental bowl with coring slot from the Step Pyramid, 3rd Dynasty.

From this site

For most people everything has to have a purpose, batteries, wind mills
and so on.
I would say that this obects purpose was to be "a bowl".
Nothing more than a really cool bowl that showcases the carvers skill.
Which it does at that, even if it is an easy stone to carve look at the flowing form of the lips and how they thin.

Then on that other bowl

DANG they could carve

posted on Jul, 30 2008 @ 02:37 AM
reply to post by punkinworks

Don't cut today's (there's a actual term but I don't have a thesaurus at hand) stone carvers, they can do the same work to, I've seen some pretty inspiring work done by contemporary atists.
Though I still think modern art (the style itself) is crap.

Edit: Did something sit in the middle there? Same place as the other bowel, but it's not raised. Maybe it was used to burn cones of incense instead,
Or like you said, maybe it's just decoration, but the similarity makes it seem there was some use.

[edit on 30-7-2008 by RuneSpider]

posted on Jul, 30 2008 @ 10:36 AM

It occurs to me that offering materials aren't always "perfect." I own several small Bast images that were found in tombs, and some of them are ... well, they're not well carved. Done in haste (and in the case of my favorite one), apparently done by apprentices. Because of high demand, shoddy workmanship could slip through and as long as it was covered by something (put under bandages, etc) it was "good enough."

Yes, I realize these came from a king's tomb, but there's the occasional sloppy bit there, too. And covered with food offerings -- well, who would know?

On the "steering wheel", well, yes it could have been a model of something they saw elsewhere. More later.

posted on Jul, 30 2008 @ 10:55 AM
Interesting find! I would tend to think they were artwork. The one bowl looks like a giant ashtray.

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