In Early Dynastic Egypt, stone vessels were manufactured on a large scale, probably by full-time specialists attached to the government or palace. The stone vessel was established as the primary piece of burial equipment during this period. Scholarship has focused on aspects of stone vessel production such as 'large-scale production' and 'attached specialisation'. However, the mortuary use of stone vessels has not been analysed in depth. Therefore, this paper clarifies the structure of their mortuary use and the background of their large-scale production, by comparing the assemblages of stone vessels found in tombs with the social class of the deceased.
It was found that in the First Dynasty, the tombs of the higher classes in the Memphite region contained a variety of wares, including specialty wares and vessels of stone such as mudstone, basalt, and tuff from remote quarries. But in the Second Dynasty, the geographical distribution of stone vessels expanded. In parallel with that, the hierarchical ranking of stone vessels appeared also in local sites. It is argued that during the Second Dynasty the mortuary consumption of stone vessels was widely promoted in the whole Nile Valley by the royal court and that, kings and high officials distributed stone vessels to powerful local clans in order to create bonds between the center and local areas. At any rate, stone vessels were the preferred political and symbolic resource for promoting regional integration throughout the Early Dynastic society of Egypt.