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An Ancient Analogy : Pot Baked Bread in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. - article ; n°2 ; vol.16, pg 21-35

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Paléorient - Année 1990 - Volume 16 - Numéro 2 - Pages 21-35
Cet article rend compte en les évaluant des similitudes existant entre les écuelles grossières mésopotamiennes de la Période d'Uruk et le moule à pain (bedja) de l'Ancien Empire égyptien. Formes, pâtes, techniques de fabrication, contexte archéologique, évolution, sont comparés; puis vient l'examen du pictogramme égyptien utilisé pour désigner le bedja. Sont enfin considérées les implications que peut avoir l'identification de l'écuelle grossière mésopotamienne avec le moule à pain égyptien pour notre connaissance de la formation de l'Etat dans le Proche Orient ancien.
This article evaluates the similarities between the Mesopotamian Bevel Rim Bowl dated to the Uruk Period and the Old Kingdom Egyptian bread mold (bedja). We compare the two vessels in terms of form, ware, manufacture, archaeological context, and evolution and then examine the explicit Egyptian pictorial evidence for the use of the bedja. The implications of the identification of the Bevel Rim Bowl as a bread mold for our understanding of state formation in the ancient Near East are considered.
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Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.

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Published 01 January 1990
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Michael Chazan
Mark Lehner
An Ancient Analogy : Pot Baked Bread in Ancient Egypt and
Mesopotamia.
In: Paléorient. 1990, Vol. 16 N°2. pp. 21-35.
Résumé
Cet article rend compte en les évaluant des similitudes existant entre les écuelles grossières mésopotamiennes de la Période
d'Uruk et le moule à pain (bedja) de l'Ancien Empire égyptien. Formes, pâtes, techniques de fabrication, contexte archéologique,
évolution, sont comparés; puis vient l'examen du pictogramme égyptien utilisé pour désigner le bedja. Sont enfin considérées les
implications que peut avoir l'identification de l'écuelle grossière mésopotamienne avec le moule à pain égyptien pour notre
connaissance de la formation de l'Etat dans le Proche Orient ancien.
Abstract
This article evaluates the similarities between the Mesopotamian Bevel Rim Bowl dated to the Uruk Period and the Old Kingdom
Egyptian bread mold (bedja). We compare the two vessels in terms of form, ware, manufacture, archaeological context, and
evolution and then examine the explicit Egyptian pictorial evidence for the use of the bedja. The implications of the identification
of the Bevel Rim Bowl as a bread mold for our understanding of state formation in the ancient Near East are considered.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Chazan Michael, Lehner Mark. An Ancient Analogy : Pot Baked Bread in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. In: Paléorient. 1990,
Vol. 16 N°2. pp. 21-35.
doi : 10.3406/paleo.1990.4530
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/paleo_0153-9345_1990_num_16_2_4530vol 16/2 - 1990 PALÉORIENT,
AN ANCIENT ANALOGY :
POT BAKED BREAD IN ANCIENT EGYPT
AND MESOPOTAMIA
M. CHAZAN and M. LEHNER
ABSTRACT. - This article evaluates the similarities between the Mesopotamian Bevel Rim Bowl dated to the Uruk Period and
the Old Kingdom Egyptian bread mold (bedja). We compare the two vessels in terms of form, ware, manufacture, archaeological
context, and evolution and then examine the explicit Egyptian pictorial evidence for the use of the bedja. The implications of the
identification of the Bevel Rim Bowl as a bread mold for our understanding of state formation in the ancient Near East are
considered.
RÉSUMÉ. - Cet article rend compte en les évaluant des similitudes existant entre les écuelles grossières mésopotamiennes de la
Période d'Uruk et le moule à pain (bedja) de l'Ancien Empire égyptien. Formes, pâtes, techniques de fabrication, contexte arché
ologique, évolution, sont comparés; puis vient Г examen du pictogramme égyptien utilisé pour désigner le bedja. Sont enfin con
sidérées les implications que peut avoir V identification de Г écuelle grossière mésopotamienne avec le moule à pain égyptien pour
notre connaissance de la formation de Г Etat dans le Proche Orient ancien.
The Bevel Rim Bowl has been called the type duced. However, as will be discussed more fully
below, it is not clear that producing Bevel Rim fossil of the Uruk Period (ca. 4,000-3,100 B.C.) in
Mesopotamia. The large quantities of Bevel Rim Bowls would have been any more economical than
Bowls found in Uruk contexts indicate that the Bevel throwing finer wares on a wheel. 4) The argument
Rim Bowl is an index to a basic and pervasive that Bevel Rim Bowls were ration vessels because
economic function. The debate over what that func they developed into Conical Cups is flawed in that
tion was has produced a vast, although rather diffuse, nobody has clearly demonstrated why Conical Cups
should be considered as ration vessels except in that body of literature (1). The interpretation of H. Nis sen
and G. Johnson (2) which identifies the Bevel Rim they replace Bevel Rim Bowls (5). 5) As indicated
Bowls as ration vessels specifically for the distribu by Beale (6), there is a certain absurdity to the
tion of raw grain has found widespread acceptance scenario of thousands of workmen carrying off a
and plays an important role in the reconstruction of supply of grain each day in eminently spillable Bevel
Uruk social organization. Rim Bowls.
Recently, Schmidt and Miliard (7) suggested that Several problems have been recognized with the Bevel Rim Bowl was a bread mold, largely on Bevel Rim Bowls as ration vessels. 1) The tri-modal the basis of similarities between the Bevel Rim Bowl standardization of Bevel Rim Bowl volumes found and the Egyptian Old Kingdom (ca. 3,100-
by Johnson has not been found by other workers (3). 2,181 B.C.) bread mold. The function of the EgyptThe most thorough refutation came from Beale who ian bread mold, termed bd3 or bedja, is vividly reanalyzed Johnson's own figures and consistently illustrated in tomb scenes, figurines and models. Mil- came up with normal distributions, which, although lard further supports his identification by showing indicating a defined range, revealed no standardized the similarity between the Cuneiform for bread, sizes. 2) Although there are a few ration texts from ninda, and the shape of a Bevel Rim Bowl. the Late Uruk and Jamdet Nasr periods, the propos There is a similar correlation between the Egyptition that Bevel Rim Bowls were ration vessels is ian hieroglyph for bread, /, and the form of the Old inspired by the later Third Millennium ration systems Kingdom Bread mold. The significance of these lexi(4), a period when the Bevel Rim Bowl was no cal correlations is underscored by the cuneiform and longer produced. 3) Nissen and Johnson have argued hieroglyphic signs for beer which are in the shape that the coarse ware and slab construction which of a jar. characterize the Bevel Rim Bowls made it a di
As the identification of the Bevel Rim Bowl as sposable vessel which could be rapidly mass pro-
bread molds rests largely on the analogy with bedja
bowls it is necessary to present a detailed compari- (1) For a summary see LE BRUN, 1980.
(2) NISSEN, 1970, 1988; JOHNSON, 1973.
(3) ALDEN, 1973; SURENHAGEN, 1974-1975; MILLER, (5) NISSEN, 1970; NICHOLAS, 1987.
1981; BEALE, 1978. (6) BEALE, 1978.
(4) GELB, 1965. (7) SCHMIDT, 1982; MILLARD, 1988.
21 :
Like the Bevel Rim Bowl, the bedja bowls PROTO-SUMERIAN
(fig. 3 : 2-7) have flaring sides and have been called
by the Germans Glockenform (10). The bedja bowls
are considerably larger, thicker, and heavier than the
Bevel Rim Bowl. The heights of the vessels range
from 13 to 23 cm and the diameters of the vessels KAS BEER
range from 18 to 25 cm (11). Due to the thickness
of the base, the depth is considerably less than the
exterior height. The depths of the vessels range from
7 to 14 cm. Walls are extremely thick (1.2 to 2.8 cm).
A complete bedja bowl is a massive plot, weighing
NINDA BREAD from 3.3 to 6.5 kg. The base can be either convex
or flat and is extremely rough and badly pitted with Illustration non autorisée à la diffusion
folds and crevasses. The vessels with convex bases
often show a pronounced inflection at the juncture
of the wall and base. The interior is cone shaped
EGYPTIAN and, in marked contrast to the exterior, is "charact
eristically lined with a thin coat of very fine-grained
clay, carefully smoothed so as to eliminate any i
rregularities of the inner surface" (12). The rim of the
hnkt BEER vessel is often bevelled (13). Bedja bowls sometimes
carry simple marks made with a finger when the clay
was moist. When on the interior, these depressed
signs would have shown as raised relief on the bread
which they molded (14).
BREAD
WARE
FIG. 1. - Ideographic signs for beer and bread in Proto-Su-
merian and Old Kindgom Egyptian Scripts. (Proto-Sumerian The ware of the Bevel Rim Bowl is distinctive from Friber 1984 : 116; Green 1987. Egyptian from Gardiner
within the Uruk assemblage because of the large 1969.)
amount of organic temper. Pétrographie analyses we
carried out on thirteen Bevel Rim Bowl sherds from
son of these two vessels. The sections below com Jebel Aruda, Farukhabad, and Umm Q'seir showed
pare the Bevel Rim Bowl and the bedja bowl in values of 15 % to 25 % for voids left by burned out
terms of form, ware, manufacture, archaeological organics, primarily cut grass. Aside from organic
context, and evolution. burn outs, Bevel Rim Bowl ware is characterized by
a moderate mineral fraction (3-5 %), primarily of
quartz. Occasionally small pebbles and sherd frag
ments are included in the ware. FORM
The ware of the bedja bowls fits within the
general category Nile silt C-- Nile silt clay contain
The German Glockentôpfe, «bell pot», describes ing coarse sand and straw (15). Material from the
well the form of the Bevel Rim Bowl (fig. 2 : 3-5). 1988-89 excavations of the Giza Plateau Mapping
The base of the vessel is slightly rounded and the Project allow a more precise definition of bread mold
walls are sharply splayed. The inside bottom of the ware. The ware of the bread molds is uniform, varybowl is often impressed with a fist mark and the rim ing only in density of inclusions and size of the core. is bevelled. The interior is lined with a clay slip or The color of the ware varies but generally is 10R wet finish finer than the rest of the vessel. The rim 4-5/8. Density of inclusions is 10-50 % (usually be
is usually uneven in height and is only approximately tween 20-50 %). Inclusions are organics, calcite, round. The bowls range from 6 to 15 cm in height quartz sand, and quartz pebbles. and from 14-19 cm in diameter (8). Walls are of
moderate thickness (0.7-1.8 cm). Larger shallow
(10) BALCZ, 1933. (24 cm diameter) and miniature (10 cm diameter) (11) JACQUET-GORDON, 1981. Bevel Rim Bowls have also been reported (9). (12) Ibid. : 11.
(13) REISNER, 1932: 84.
(14) See BOURRIAU, 1981 17, n° 2. (8) JOHNSON, 1973.
(15) Ibid. (9) MILLER, 1981 : 128.
22 Illustration non autorisée à la diffusion
2 - Evolution of the Bevel Rim Bowl. FIG.
1. Hassuna Husking Tray (Voigt 1985 :
fig. 81b); 2. Proto Bevel Rim Bowl (Johnson
1973 : PI. lb); 3-5. Bowls (Surenha-
gen 1974-1975 : Tab. 1 : 19; Le Brun 1978 :
Fig. 20 : 8; Nissen 1970 : PI. 104 : 7); 6-7. Uruk
Flower Pot (Surenhagen 1974-1975 : Tab. 1 :
20; Le Brun 1978 : Fig. 20 : 9); 8-10. Early Dy
nastic I Conical Cups (Delougaz 1952 :
B077.700, B077.700a, B077.700b). Scale 1 : 5
23 \
)
12
13
Illustration non autorisée à la diffusion
FIG. 3. - Evolution of the Egyptian Bread Mold. 1. Predynastic; 2-7. Old Kingdom; 8-9. First Intermediate Period; 10-11. Middle
Kingdom; 12-13 New Kingdom. (After Jacquet-Gordon 1981 : Figs. 1-6)
Scale 1 : 5.
MANUFACTURE dry clay (16). Several scenarios have been suggested
for the forming of these vessels. Miller proposed that
a ball of clay was pressed into a hole in the ground
Due to the properties of montmorillonite clays
the inclusions which characterize Bevel Rim Bowl
ware had to have been prepared and then added to (16) VANDIVER, 1985: 128.
24 :
Table 1
Bevel Rim Bowl
Form
Splayed Walls Splayed
1.2-2.8 cm. Wall Thickness 0.7-1.8 cm.
Smooth, Cone shaped Interior Smooth
Impressed Bottom Rarely impressed
Convex or Flat Base Slightly rounded 18-25 cm. Diameter 14-19 cm.
13-23 cm. Height 6-15 cm.
7-14 cm. Depth 5-13 cm.
0.4-0.9 liters 0.7-2.2 liters Level Volume
Ware
Organics Predominant Organics Predominant Inclusions
High High Density of Inclusions
Manufacture
Construction Sequential Slab Sequential Slab
Low Usually Low Firing Temperature
Archaeological Context
50% or greater 50% or greater General Frequency
Cemeteries Susa, Tello, and Eridu Common
Temples Eridu, Uqair, and Brak
Administrative Godin, Yahya, Susa Tomb of Ту
Domestic Common Common Ayn Asil; Middle and Ovens
New Kingdom
Evolution of Form
Shallow Crude Ware Bowl Prototypes Bowl with Tapering Rim
Taller, Narrower Vessels Subsequent Forms Conical Cups
with Thin Walls
which was prepared using an old Bevel Rim Bowl Q'seir was vitrified and the clay matrix had bubbled
as a template (17). Replication experiments using indicating extremely high firing temperatures (22).
this method were successful. J. Karlsbeck suggested Pétrie (23) suggested that the bedja bowl was
that the bowls were built out of a lump of clay held made by putting a lump of mud in a hole in the
in the potter's hand (18). Neither of these sugges ground, forming the wall by hand against the side
tions adequately explains the joins clearly visible of the hole, and trimming the rim. Eggebrecht (24)
in broken sections. These joins indicate that the accepted Pétrie 's reconstruction but, to explain the bowls were not pressed out from one piece of clay homogeneity of the interior of the vessels, added that
but rather that they were built up by sequential slab they were made with a conical form which would
construction. In this technique, slabs and strips of have been pressed into the clay. The outer walls
clay are used to build up a vessel (19). If this sug were then smoothed (in the hole ?) and the rim cut
gestion is accepted then the fist marks in the bottom off from above. of the interior of the Bevel Rim Bowls cannot be Charvát (25) has argued against Eggebrecht's rexplained in terms of manufacture. econstruction because a cone thrust into and pulled
It is often assumed that the Bevel Rim Bowls from clay would pull clay with it from the bottom
were fired to low temperatures (20). The only ana of the interior. Charvát also thinks that the thrust of
lytical evidence published is Surenhagen's statement the cone would flatten the base which is often con
that the firing temperatures of the Bevel Rim Bowls vex or even knobular.
from Habuba Kabira were fired to between 600° and The bedja bowls were probably built upside 800° С (21). The pétrographie analysis discussed down around a conical form. Joins visible in the secabove provides limited data on firing temperatures. tions of bedja sherds suggest that, like the Bevel Rim Five sherds had intact calcite crystals which suggest Bowl, the bedja bowls were built of slabs. This a very low firing temperature. One sherd from Umm
(17) MILLER, 1981.
(18) KARLSBECK, 1980. (22) KILLICK, unpublished.
(19) VANDIVER, 1985. (23) PETRIE, 1900 : 29.
(20) JOHNSON, 1973 : 131. (24) EGGEBRECHT, 1974 175.
(21) SURENHAGEN, 1974-1975. (25) CHARVÁT, 1981.
25 :
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would also explain the undulations of the exterior temples at Tel Uqair and Tel Brak and from cemet
wall of the vessels. The horizontal striations on the eries at Susa, Tello, and Eridu (33).
upper exterior are the result of a quick finish with At Eridu the building in square H/5 at the edge
the fingers or a tool around the base of the clay mass. of the temple precinct was full of Bevel Rim Bowl
In the process of taking the inverted vessel off the sherds. In room 8 a square kiln was packed around
working surface, the beveled rim was formed. with Bevel Rim Bowls (34). A round kiln was di
scovered at Ur filled with Bevel Rim Bowls and No precise data is available for the firing
Flower Pots (35). Johnson (36) reports kilns containtemperature of the bedja bowls. The thick blackened
ing bevel Rim Bowls from Abu Fanduweh and Choga cores of many of these vessels indicate a low firing
Mish. At Habuba Kabira and Jebel Aruda Bevel Rim temperature.
Bowl sherds were found in the ashes from domestic Xero-radiographic studies and experimental rep ovens (37). At Choga Mish, Bevel Rim Bowls were lication are needed to determine the exact methods found crammed by the hundreds into pits (38). of manufacture for both the Bevel Rim Bowls and Bedja bowls have been found in cemeteries, the bedja bowls. However, it seems likely that both temples, and habitation sites from the First through were manufactured using sequential slab construc the Sixth Dynasties. Indeed, these bread molds may tion and fired at low temperatures. Although Nissen well be found in "almost every major excavation in and Johnson have characterized hand construction as Egypt" (39). In cemeteries they have been found in an expedient rapid method of preparing vessels at the rubble filling of the cores of mastaba tombs, in low cost, there is little to support this claim. Indeed, the burial assemblages, and in the shafts leading the one minute Johnson claims it takes to fashion a down to the burial chambers (40). The bedja bowls Bevel Rim Bowl is equal to the time it takes a pro were also left, probably as offerings, beside and on fessional potter to throw a vase on a wheel (26). top of tombs (41).
Among temple contexts in which the bedja
bowls have been found are the enclosure of the
Osiris Temple at Abydos (42), the pyramid temples ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT
of Mycerinus at Giza (43), the Sphinx Temple of
Giza (44), and the Userkaf Sun at
Abusir (45). Because reporting horizontal coordinates of ce
ramic material is not a traditional part of Me- At the large early settlement of Hierakonpolis,
bedja bowls were the most frequent objects in the sopotamian site reports, excavators have not until
recently provided much information about the houses (46). In the Old Kingdom town at Buhen, the
bread molds were the second most frequent ceramic specific provenience of Bevel Rim Bowls. What is
type (47). clear is that Bevel Rim Bowls are ubiquitous in Uruk
sites, often making up the bulk of the recovered pot It is not possible to calculate the percentage of
tery (27). Bevel Rim Bowls constitute 60 to 70 % of bedja bowls within the total ceramic corpus from
the sherd sample from the quadrat k/1 XII excavat most Egyptian excavations. Charvát (48) gives a
ions at Warka (28). Bevel Rim Bowls along with total of 833 of this type from the Ptah-shepses
goblets and trays make up 50 to 60 % of the assem Mastaba at Abusir. At the Giza Mycerinus Pyramid
blage from the TUV mound at Tal-E Malyan in the complex, bread molds constituted 32.08 % of the
lowest building levels, but decline to between 14 to total of all ceramics (these figures are by sherd
25 % in the upper level (29). At Tepe Yahya, Bevel count). This is close to the 35.82 % of the total of
Rim Bowls were less than 5 % of the total ceramic this type from the limited Old Kingdom deposit at the
assemblage from Period IVC (30).
Bevel Rim Bowls have been found in administ (33) LE BRUN, 1980 62.
(34) SAFAR, MUSTAFA and LLOYD, 1981 75. rative contexts at Godin Tepe, Tepe Yahya, and
(35) WOOLLEY, 1956 PI. 3c. Susa(31). At Godin Tepe, Bevel Rim Bowls were (36) JOHNSON, 1973 131. 50 % of the corpus from the administrative building (37) VAN DRIEL, 1983; SURENHAGEN, 1974-1975 100. on the top of the mound and 20 % of the ceramics (38) DELOUGAZ and KANTOR, 1975 97.
from the Brick Kiln Cut at the edge of the (39) JACQUET-GORDON, 1981 11.
mound (32). Bevel Rim bowls are reported from (40) RIESNER and SMITH, 1955 88; QUIBELL, 1898 19;
GARSTANG, 1903: pi. 30/17; РЕЕТ and LOAT, 1913: Tomb
D 181, 17; EMERY, 1961 213; BRUNTON, 1928 : 5.
(26) JOHNSON, 1973 131; LEACH, 1976 223. (41) EGGEBRECHT, 1974: 174; CHARVÁT, 1981.
(27) For a catalogue of sites in which Bevel Rim Bowls have (42) PETRIE, 1902 : 13.
been found, see LE BRUN, 1980. (43) RIESNER, 1931 : 220-221.
(28) NISSEN, 1970: 136. (44) HAWASS and LEHNER, unpublished.
(29) NICHOLAS, 1987 70. (45) KAISER, 1969 77.
(30) BEALE, 1978 : 300. (46) QUIBELL and GREEN, 1902 16.
(31) LE BRUN, 1980: 62. (47) O'CONNOR, forthcoming.
(32) WEISS and YOUNG, 1975 6. (48) CHARVÁT, 1981 163.
26 :
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Sphinx Temple (49). At the Userkaf Sun Temple at mound (58). Wright (59) has suggested that the tran
Abusir, bread molds are a scant .04 % of the total a sition to conical cups is correlated with the intro
ssemblage. However, if miniature votive vessels are ex duction of larger and faster potter's wheels. Aside
cluded, bedja bowls make up 18 % of the assemblage from Bevel Rim Bowls, other Uruk coarse wares in
(calculated from Kaiser 1969). In the Old Kingdom clude trays and deep conical pots labeled Blumen-
town of Buhen, of 3,185 diagnostic sherds - 18.6%, tôpfen, flower pots (fig. 2 : 6-7).
the second highest figure - were bread molds (50). The most likely candidate for an early bedja
The only Old Kingdom context in which bedja bowl is a shallow crude ware bowl (fig. 3:1) dating
bowls are associated with kilns is at the site of Ayn- to the predynastic period (60). There is a rather subt
Asil (51). At Ayn-Asil, 53 % of the ceramic corpus le trend during the Old Kingdom towards tallness
consists of bread molds. The rest of the corpus is and narrowness (61). In the First Intermediate period
made up of fine ware jars and bowls and coarse ware (fig. 3 : 9-10) the conical bread molds were much
taller and narrower than the Old Kingdom bedja jars. The kilns at Ayn-Asil are cyclindrical.
bowls and had much thinner walls. By the Middle Later forms of bread molds are found associated Kingdom, Twelfth Dynasty (fig. 3 : 10-11), these with square ovens in the Middle Kingdom sites of bread molds were "tall, thin tubes with only slightly Abu Ghalib and Mirgissa and the New Kingdom flaring sides and a perfectly flat base which someTreasury of Thutmose I at Karnak North (52). Kemp times splays outward to provide a more stable footfound 64 complete molds in a rectangular oven ing" (62). There is no flare to the walls and the width within an annex to one of the "private" chapels of
to height ratio varies between 2 : 5 and 1 : 5. the Workmen's Village at Amarna (53). It is signif
icant, as will be discussed below, that the forms of Bread molds have recently been retrieved from
the New Kingdom settlement of el-Amarna which rbread molds associated with ovens are thinner walled
than are the Old Kingdom bedja bowls. esemble the old Kingdom bedja bowls in that they
are thick-walled, hemispherical, with a massive
amount of clay forming a foot. This type is otherwise
unknown from New Kingdom contexts. The vessels
EVOLUTION were with the more classic New Kingdom tubular
forms (fig. 3 : 12-13) stacked in an oven, and they
may have served as caps for the latter (63).
M. Voigt (54) has effectively argued that the Jacquet-Gardon (64) has provided a functional Hassuna (early sixth millennium) husking trays were explanation for the evolution of the bread molds actually used as portable ovens for the baking of flat towards narrower forms : "As the space inside the bread (fig. 2 : 1). If she is correct then these are the [bedja] mould to be filled with dough was comparatearliest ceramic vessels from the Near East to be ively large, thick walls were necessary to hold the connected with bread baking. There is obviously no heat long enough to thoroughly bake the bread while link between these vessels and the Bevel Rim Bowl. isolating the surface sufficiently to prevent it from Similarly unconnected to the Bevel Rim Bowl are a burning... The comparatively thin walls of these later series of bread molds from the Zimri Lim Palace moulds are in direct relationship to the reduced (1900-1750 B.C.) at Mari (55). diameter of the inner space. A long narrow bread was
G. Johnson has traced a prototype of the Bevel much more quickly baked through."
Rim Bowl to the Early Uruk period (56). These
'proto-Bevel Rim Bowls' (fig. 2 : 2) are disti
nguished from the Bevel Rim Bowl by a tapering rim.
BREAD BAKING IN OLD KINGDOM EGYPT It is generally agreed that the Bevel Rim Bowls in
crease in frequency during the Middle and Late Uruk
and then are gradually replaced throughout Me
Before evaluating the analogy between Bevel sopotamia, during the Jemdet Nasr period, by conical
Rim Bowls and bedja bowls the exact nature of bread cups (fig. 2 : 8-10) made on a fast wheel (57). This
baking in Egypt should be considered. Both the conchronology is supported by a recently published
text and process of Old Kingdom bread baking is analysis of the ceramics from Tal-E Malyan TUV
vividly depicted in tomb scenes and models of daily
life. The most complete and detailed depiction of
(49) HAWASS and LEHNER, unpublished.
(50) O'CONNOR, forthcoming.
(51) BALLET and SOUKIASSIAN, 1984. (58) NICHOLAS, 1987 68.
(52) LARSEN, 1935: 51; HOLTHOER, 1977; PI. 72.2; (59) WRIGHT, 1981 165.
(60) REISNER, 1908: 98, fig. 186; JACQUET-GORDON, KEMP, 1987 76.
(53) KEMP, 1987 73-79. 1981 12 ; P. LACOVARA, pers. comm.
(54) VOIGT, 1985 159. (61) JACQUET-GORDON, 1981 11-12.
(55) WEISS, 1985 233. (62) Ibid. : 19.
(63) KEMP, 1987 73-79, fig. 6.7; WILSON, 1988 91. (56) JOHNSON, 1973 54.
(57) ADAMS and NISSEN, 1972 99-100. (64)1981 23.
27 mm
4Ш 1РрЧ
Illustration non autorisée à la diffusion
1
FIG. 4. - Brewery and Bakery scene from Scale the 1 : Tomb 13 of Ту (After Epron 1939 : PI. LXVI)
28 :
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bread baking is from the Fifth Dynasty tomb of Ту heated, and that the dough was placed into the heated
at Saqqara (65). vessels so as to bake (74). According to this model,
the massive bedja bowls served as portable ovens. The organization of this scene gives a clear pic The thick walls of the vessels served to retain heat. ture of the context in which bread production took Heat retention properties of ceramic materials is not place. Register 7 shows a potter's workshop, includ widely discussed in the archaeological literature. An ing a kiln at the far left. Registers 5-6 depict beer examination we carried out on the thermal properties brewing. The process of beer brewing is very similar of Mesopotamian sherds suggests that it is the thickto the production of bouza beer made until recently ness of vessel walls, not characteristics of the ware, by Nubians in Egypt. Large loaves are baked in which determine the degree of heat retention (Apbroad flat bottomed vessels or shallow trays which pendix). were then broken up and put into a vessel with water
and crushed moist yeast. The bread acted as the fe The function of bedja bowls as portable ovens
rmenting agent in this mixture. Finally, as shown in may only be part of the explanation of stack heating.
register 6 the beer was strained and then 'bottled' Wilson pointed out that the fine clay lining found
and sealed (66). The trays for baking flat psn bread on the inside of bread molds from all periods would
depicted in the scenes of beer brewing are common not have been sufficient to prevent the bread from
in Old Kingdom ceramic corpora although their func sticking to the mold. In rural England a no-stick sur
tion as bread trays has not been generally recog face was achieved on earthenware bread bans by
nized. (67). A similar process of crushing and soaking tempering. "This means to grease the surface liber
beer bread (bappir) is mentioned in Mesopotamian ally, to heat the empty pot to baking temperature,
texts (68). and to repeat this procedure several times before
baking the dough in the mold" (75). Registers 3-4 separate the scenes of beer brew
ing from the scenes of bread baking. These registers Following the stack heating of the pots, the next
depict the preparation of grain necessary for the pro step in the process is shown in the lower center of
duction of both bread and beer. In the far left of Register 2. The dough is being poured into the pots.
Register 4 a man withdraws grain from the granaries The label beside the man pouring into the bedja
of the pr šnc, "storehouse", or "labor establish reads vertically wdh šdt, "pouring sdt dough."
ment" (69). At the far right another man performs Another label beside a man pouring into a different
"crushing" the grain, with a mortthe act labeled shm, kind of pot reads dw hr hz3 , "putting over hz3
ar and pestle. Others in the center of Register 4 and dough." The dough appears to have been liquid, more
in Register 3 below are kneeling and putting both like our pancake or bisquit dough, though this point
hands on an oval shape in a broad shallow platter remains unclear. How would one pour dough that has
while some material flows over the edges of the plat been kneaded ? More study of these questions is
ter. These and the other figures in these registers are needed. In any case, the scene indicates that the
cleaning and grinding more finely the crushed grain dough was put into an already heated vessel. Then
into flour. In Register 4, the material in question is the vessel was closed with another vessel placed up
labeled bs3, which Nims (70) took to be a kind of side down so that the rims of the two vessels met,
grain specially reserved for beer making, translating as we see between the two pourers and in the upper
it "the malt". Seated men and women in Register 3 part of Register 2. This scene shows that the flat-
are s3i, "sifting", ddw, "a kind of grain" (71), "flour". bottomed bedja bowls were used as the base, while
Bread baking in bedja bowls is depicted in Regist the conical bottomed vessels were used as the cap.
er 2. At both the right and left of Register 2 the Wilson (76) quotes David (77) as to the advantages
of 'undercover' bedja bowls are being stack heated. This activity is baking : "The inverted bowl (or
labeled qrr bdj, qrr being the infinitive 'stack heat cover) has become something of a small domed
ing' (72). The stacked bedja bowls, with their brick-oven, a wonderful generator of moist heat.
mouths pointing inward and downward, obviously Within its confines the yeast grows with rapidity and,
were not filled with dough when they were put on as the loaf expands it is drawn upward... Under the
the stack. While some researchers thought that the dome, the crust forms gradually, allowing the crumb
firing of the pots is the activity depicted (73), there to grow to its full extent before the yeast cells are killed." is a general consensus that the vessels are being
After baking, the loaves had to be extracted from (65) EPRON et al, 1939, pi. LXVI-LXXXXI; see our fig. 4. the molds. The activity in the upper part of Regist(66) For more on beer brewing see LUCAS, 1948, WILD, 1966
er 2 is labeled wpt bd_3, "opening the bd_3". Here and HELCK, 1971.
(67) KAISER, 1969: 76, Type LU; REISNER, 1931 223, men turn the bedja bowls over, probably to remove
fig. 71:6-7 Type XXXVI.
(68) HARTMAN and OPPENHEIM, 1950 24-25.
(69) FAULKNER, 1962 90; GARDINER, Aeo 11 209*. (74) BALCZ, 1933 209-211; JUNKER, 1940 65-67; WILD,
(70) NIMS, 1950 : 261-262. 1966 106.
(71)1962: 209. (75) WILSON, 1988 89.
(72) VERHOEVEN, 1984: 190-204. (76) Ibid., 93.
(73) HAYES, 1953 : 97. (77) DAVID, 1982 305.
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