LL 5689


Mortar with two lug handles, made from a variety of stone found only on Mount Porphyrites in Egypt. Being an extremely hard wearing igneous rock, porphyry was deemed an ideal material for the purposes of a domestic or apothecary mortar. Purchased at Sotheby's 23-24 July 1917 (Hope sale) Lot 170: "Ancient Egyptian porphyry mortar, with rudimentary handles - 8 in. diam." "Porphyry is a rare hard, purple-red stone that was highly prized in antiquity for its distinct color. Because purple was considered the imperial colour, porphyry was regarded as a royal stone. Under Roman rule, the quarrying of porphyry in the remote eastern desert of Egypt was an imperial monopoly. The stone’s hardness made it difficult to quarry, and the need to transport the stone long distances added to its value as a luxury material." (metmuseum,org).