Urkesh Ceramic Analysis

Shapes by horizon: Middle Assyrian / Foreign Presence


Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati – February 2014

Stratified Middle Assyrian ceramics have only been found in J5 and just under the surface of the small mound below the present village of Mozan. Since many of the shapes overlap with those of the previous Mittani period, where possible, the Mittani shape codes were used; however in the horizon column MA (for Middle Assyrian) is the code rather than M (for Mittani). For example a bowl with a rounded carination is found in both periods and has the code bcrr801. When new shapes occurred they were given just the basic code (i.e. jars, bowls, etc.), with the idea of assigning new, complete codes (including basic shapes, family, sub-family and type codes) when the Middle Assyrian catalog would contain more data. Because of circumstances, we were not able to return to excavate after the 2010 season; consequently this was not done. The most articulated shapes can be found in the bowls and jars; several plate shapes occurred. Cups were present in few shapes. Given that only one context was excavated for this period, these shapes are probably not representative of the whole MA corpus at the site. Our present understanding is that the city in this period must have been greatly reduced and probably was no longer a city but a small settlement tied to the remnant of a once important sanctuary.

Few of the vessels were painted or otherwise decorated with incised wavy lines or applied rope decoration. Painted decoration, when present, was mainly parallel horizontal lines on the body of the vessel. Rarely is a bowl painted on the interior. As in the Mittani period drip paint marks can occur on either the interior or exterior of jars. But this decoration is rarer than in the Mittani period. Handles, when present, are usually small with a round or oval hole. Some short rectangular legs for vessels were found but these are rare.

The most important wares in the Middle Assyrian period, as in the Mittani period, are CH and RC. The vessels made in CH contain more sand inclusions, making them heavier, and some have a red-brown slip, a small number of bowls are burnished on the interior.

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