The theme of my exhibit is pottery from ancient Mesopotamia. Archeologists have been able to find many different pieces of pottery from different time periods. Mesopotamia was a region that had Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians, and existed from the beginning of written history in 3100 BC to when Alexander the Great overthrew it in 332 BC. The name Mesopotamia is from two ancient Greek root words μέσος (meso), which means middle and ποταμός (potamos), which means river, put together they mean between rivers.
Depending on how the pottery looks and the style of it determine what time period it is from. Some of the earlier pottery pieces are earthenware with incisions on it and are much more fragile than later pieces made that are covered in alkaline glaze. Although all of the pottery pieces are from ancient Mesopotamia the area that they came from also shows a variety of styles. Some have different colored paints than others while some have none. So far the earliest pottery archeologists have found is from 7000 BC, from a site called Hassuna. The pottery from there is hand shaped, not glazed and has simple geometric patterns of line incisions. The next oldest pottery to be found is from 5300-4000 BC and from Ubaid. The pottery from this time where made from a darker clay and often had a green or brown tint to them. They also used a wheel to make pots have a wide rim. After Ubaid was the Uruk, they where the first to mass produce pottery with the wheel and used cedar oil and ground up pigments as paint. In 3200 BC was the Jemdet Nasr era. The pottery from this era had black or a dark red paint and was thick.
During the Assyrian Empire in 1813-609 BC, pottery had become very important, and blue glaze was used. In 612 BC was the Achaemenid Persian Empire. During this time the pottery was considered to be the most complex. The common process used to make most of the pottery pieces was to take the fine clay and shape it by hand or use a pottery wheel once they were invented. Next the artist would wait for the clay to dry out some until it appears to have leather like consistency. Then if they were going to make incisions or carvings into it this is when they would because the clay is not entirely dry but much tougher. Next they would put the piece in a kiln of some sort and make sure that it is extremely hot inside it so that the pottery piece is baked properly. After the piece is fired and the kiln cools down they would then take the piece out. Depending on if they had glazes or not then the piece would be glazed, glazes were made from crushed quartz and ashes from burnt plants. The piece would then be put back in the kiln and fired once again with the glaze on it and then done when cooled down and removed from the kiln.
It is amazing to see the art from so long ago and how it has survived for so long. The uses for pottery back then were for storing food, and ritual purposes. Depending on the design of how the pottery piece looks helps archeologists have a clue with what its purpose was.