Lydia M: Mesopotamia Pottery

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. 

This pottery jar is from ancient Alalaka now known as Tell Atchana. A jar like this was used as a goblet. This type of painted pottery is from about 1500 BC and has been found across northern Syria and northern Mesopotamia. A vessel like this is considered rare and was made on a pottery wheel with fine clay. The artist would then use white paint on a black or red background depending on the clay used. The most common designs found to be painted are birds and precise geometric patterns, although this jar has constellations and dogs on it. This type of pottery is from when northern Mesopotamia and northern Syria were part of the Hurrian city-states, specifically, Mitanni.
This pottery jar is from around 2750 BC - 2500 BC. The style of pottery is known as Ninevite 5, since it was limited to a level number 5 during an excavation in Nineveh in 1931 – 1932 BC. This type of pottery has been found in multiple sites in northern Mesopotamia and is considered to be common. This type of pottery also falls into two different categories of pottery. One of them is that it is painted and the other is that it has incisions. The way that pottery has changed over time helps an archeologist when figuring out the date of a site. The person who created this piece first took the clay and shaped it on a wheel to a bowl. They then used incisions to make patterns on it and paint it and finally they would fire it.
This pottery vessel was made during the Seleucid and Parthian periods in Mesopotamia. The style of this piece was influenced by Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf. Something that makes this potter piece different than others is that it has a glaze and it has survived well. The type of glaze that was used then was alkaline glaze. The colors that could be made were blue, green, and yellow. The way that glazes were made is that they would mix ashes from burning plants with crushed quartz rocks. The colors blue and green are from the small amounts of iron oxide, depending on if there is or is not copper. Using alkaline glazes was a tradition in Parthian pottery. Archeologists have not ben able to find evidence of using lead glazes for this type of potter piece although lead glazes have been found to be used in Rome and China.
This pottery pot from Mesopotamia was made during the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age. Usually pottery in Mesopotamia and Syria was plain and did not have any decorations. This piece of pottery is earthenware, which is pottery that is not fired at a high enough temperature to be able to pour liquids in it without using glazes. Since this piece of pottery is decorated archeologists think that it may have been used for special occasions like rituals. A similar pot with a carving of the goddess Ishtar had been found in a tomb in Larsa. This pot has a convex bottom and a rim folding outwards as well as four small handles. On the side of the pot there are four friezes, each has a decorative pattern. From top to bottom they are a circle within a circle, then a zigzagging motif and then a drawing of animals, which are dogs, fish, birds, and an ibex.
This piece of pottery was made by hand before the wheel was invented. They would decorate the piece with fine geometric designs in either one or two colors. This style was spread over a large area in northern Mesopotamia around 5500 BC. This type of pottery was made locally in northern Mesopotamia, as well as traded because of its beauty. This type of pottery was very high quality and durable and has been found by archeologists in many different areas. This type of pottery is also considered to be Halaf pottery that is from Arpachiyah in northern Mesopotamia.
This type of pottery was made on a wheel and painted with monochrome decorations in red, black, or brown. They would decorate the jar with geometric patterns, horizontal lines, hatched and crosshatched triangles, and other various simple motifs. This type of pottery was named Khabur Ware because of the location where it was found by the Khabur River. This type of pottery was found in more places than Khabur, such as Iraq, Iran, and Turkey.
This type of pottery jar is from Khafajeh and was excavated in 1930. It is decorated in red and black paint. Depicted are chariots, a banquet scene, and musicians. This jar is the earliest known object so far to combine two reoccurring themes found in Sumerian pottery. This type of pottery was common along the River Diyala, and known as Scarlet Ware. Diyala was part of an important trade route of the Tigris River that allowed southern Mesopotamia with the Iranian plateau. It is believed that this type of jar may of come from a temple that was dedicated the moon god Sin. This jar is most likely from the Early Dynastic II time period.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google