Aweidah Gallery - Ancient Art

Canaanite Middle Bronze Age Snake jar, 1730 BC

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Holy Land: Pottery: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1259281
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Snake “Serpent” pottery jar
“Tell El-Yahudiyeh ware"
Holy Land, Canaanite, Middle Bronze Age
1730 - 1550 BC
Time of Abraham

The jar is outstanding in its excellent workmanship and decoration, a fine creation of the master potter in a period when pottery-making reached a peak of achievement.

The jar is well proportioned, with a flaring neck, graceful ovoid body and a pointed base. The handle forms a bridge between the lip and the shoulder and is decorated with crawling serpent.

The snake “Serpent” motif was widely used in Canaanite art of the second millennium BC and was especially common as decoration of jar-handles.

The free, almost realistic representation on our jar is rather unusual. The snake is shown as if crawling on the body of the jar and climbing the handle with head perched on the lip

Height: 13 cm 
Diameter: 8 cm 
Height on stand: 16 cm

Condition: Minor professional restoration hard to see otherwise intact

Found in Samaria north of Jerusalem, Israel


Tell el-Yehudiyeh Ware (also spelt Tell el-Yehudiyah or Tell el-Yahudiyeh, often abbreviated TEY) is a distinctive ceramic ware of the late Middle Bronze Age / Second Intermediate Period. The ware takes its name from its type site at Tell el-Yehudiyeh in the eastern Nile Delta of Egypt, and is also found in a large number of Levantine and Cypriot sites. It was first recognized as a distinctive ware by Flinders Petrie during his excavation of the type site. The clay used in Tell el-Yehudiyeh Ware is normally grey or light-brown in color, with numerous gritty inclusions. Tell el-Yehudiyeh Ware is characterized by its distinctive mode of decoration, applied after slipping and burnishing, and created by repeatedly "pricking" the surface of the vessel with a small sharp object to create a large variety of geometric designs ('puncturing' according to some writers - not a completely accurate description of the process, as it appears to have been the potters' intention not to 'puncture' or 'pierce' the vessel wall, but merely to make a series of small impressions or dents). These designs appear in the form of lines, stripes, triangles, squares and - very occasionally - circles. Vessels of Tell el-Yeduiyeh Ware frequently have a dark surface (the burnished slip varying from brownish-black, to grey, to yellowish), the multiple holes often being filled with chalk or lime, the contrasting white material making the surface design even more dramatic. Many ceramicists see the form of the Tell el-Yehudiyeh juglet as being firmly grounded in earlier Canaanite ceramic traditions, able to be traced back to earlier prototypes such as the juglets from Tomb A at Jericho [Amiran 1970:120]. Amiran, Ruth 1970 Ancient Pottery of the Holy Land, Rutgers University Press, 1970 Similar examples can be found in the British Museum and in the Petrie Museum