Urkesh Ceramic Analysis

Categorization / Lexicon / Wares / 3rd-2nd mill.

Pebble Temper Ware (P)

Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati – April 2006
Laerke Recht – May 2016

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General Description

This ware is used to make the standard globular shaped cooking pots with rounded bases. These vessels lasted at least from the mid third millennium in Urkesh until the early second millennium. They continued to be made and used as the main cooking vessel because the clay and especially the inclusions made them ideal for retaining heat. Most are heavily secondarily fired on the lower two-thirds of the exterior, while some vessels have traces of burning inside.

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Basis for Definition

Temple BA, AK wing of palace, strata above the palace.

Identifying Attributes

Many small quartz pebbles used as temper, very friable, exterior highly burnished. In those rare cases when a vessel was unused as a cooking vessel it can be seen that the original surface on the exterior is heavily burnished and brick red in color; with use the exterior becomes dark brown to black.

Clay Type

Ferric clay, coarse, uneven particle sizes, color before utilization as cooking vessels medium brown (5YR7/4 pink); used dark brown, fragile because of temper size and repeated secondary firing.


Large amounts of organic temper; vessels can also have some mineral inclusions.


Low to medium, most secondarily burnt.

Firing Cloud


Carbon core Yes.
Wall Thickness 1-2 cm.
  • Hole mouth jars (size range: rim d ca 19-25 cm).

  • Medium (rim d ca 15-17 cm).

  • Deep bowl with exterior semicircular tab handles and a rounded base (range: rim d ca 30cm but they can be as wide as 60 cm).

  • Small bowls (rare).

  • Some shapes have a groove on top of the rim to hold a lid flat trays with slightly upturned rims.

  • Some jars have triangular handles on rim.

  • Manufacturing Techniques

    Very friable, burnished to compact the surface which otherwise would have little consistency since the proportion of paste to temper is low. Original surface color is dark orange to bright orange, however most are burnt secondarily to a dark brown or black.


    Yes but not carefully done.


    Some ribs below the neck can occur.


    Temple BA, strata of AK palace and above.

    Comparative Material

    All third millennium Khabur sites, Chuera, Harran, western Syria.


    This ware was the principal third millennium cooking ware at Mozan. Many sherds are secondarily fired and appear to have been fired repeatedly making the vessels very friable. Some had been secondarily fired so many times that the sherds broke apart on washing. Earlier shapes can have two triangular tab handles opposite each other on the rim exterior while later shapes sometimes have two small loop handles extending from the rim to the upper part of the semi-hemispherical body. These are also placed opposite each other.

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    Sherd Illustrations from all Phases

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    Back to top: Pebble Temper Ware (P)



    Back to top: Pebble Temper Ware (P)




    Back to top: Pebble Temper Ware (P)