A carefully carved ancient steatite bowl probably used in life by the owner and taken to the grave with the deceased.
Ancient Carved Steatite Vessel Bactria Approx Four Thousand Yrs Old
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An ancient Bactrian beautiful steatite dish carved into a kidney shape The olive green sets off the striations in the rhomboid motifs to good effect. The line decoration lightens the geometric shapes into a more lyrical over all design. But the piece is in excellent condition for an object that has been weathered either in the earth or exposed to the elements for at least 3,500 years and very possibly as long as 5,000 years.
The dish is decorated all around. The culture that produced this dish is located in what is now the country of Afghanistan in the North part, in the high desert of Central Asia, nestled into the lower part of the Hindu Kush range of the Himalayas.
The civilization that began to develop in ancient Bactria some 5,000 years ago was replaced by later inhabitants that have also been replaced, or at least their culture has developed in a new direction. But in the third millennium B.C., some 5,000 years ago, the myths that informed the culture were expressed in designs on stone amulets, seals, and vessels of various kinds. The myths were acted out in monumental temples.
This dish was probably buried along with the owner as part of his grave goods, though it might have been simply left in a room of a temple that fell to ruin due to invasion or abandonment.
Since the Bactrians of this period did not record history in writing, we have no way of knowing how the dish was used.