A15 topic

The ceramic vessels A15a34 from store room A15a39

18 January 2022 – Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati

      This one room in A15, from the Palace AP, yielded over 40 vessels of which about 33 could be restored. They came mainly from f523 but a few from features f411 and f422. Here we have a very important inventory of ceramics since they are well stratified and consist in a large and varied corpus. In this corpus there are many conical cups of a type that we have already excavated from other areas of the palace. In the room the conical cups ranged in rim diameter from 9-11 cm with the tallest around 9 cm high. These cups are typical for the Urkesh palace and the later non-palace use. An experiment carried out by one of our students (Elaine Fuss) who is herself a potter, showed that if the clay is prepared ahead, the potter can produce 500 conical cups a day. These cups then were literally the paper cups of the Akadian period in an elite building in Urkesh.

      Relatively few bowls were found in the room (10 out of the total of about 40). The smaller bowls had a rim diameter in the range of 11-14 cm while the larger bowls had a diameter ranging from 20-30 cm. These larger bowls could have also been used for storage. But for the most part the room was filled with jars. This is to be expected for a space we have interpreted as a storeroom. However the variety of the vessels in our jars category is very interesting. They ranged in size from very small narrow necked jars to jars with a 50 cm rim diameter. We have concluded from this and the evidence from large bowls that the room was used to store a variety of goods. That it was not a formal storeroom with jars lining the walls can be concluded also form the placement of the vessels. When we first discovered the deposit only the largest jars and a few cups and small bowls were visible on the surface. As we removed the vessels it became clear that smaller vessels had originally stood near the larger jars in no discernible order. Also it was apparent that the large jars and bowls were not positioned so that they were stabilized to give them support, especially during use.

     In the description of the room in a34 and a39 the stratigraphic situation of the vessels in the room is discussed. Since the walls of this room were not well preserved the date to Phase 2 or to Phase 3 were still to be determined. In the field this storeroom was first thought to date from the later Akkadian period connected in Urkesh with Tar'am- Agade as the walls were not well preserved and the room appeared to be part of a time period when the building was no longer used as a palace, indicating that the room dated to later in the Akkadian period and thus later than the period connected with King Tupkish of Urkesh. Many of the vessels were shapes that continued to be made from the time of Tupkish into the period connected with Tar'am-Agade. These include the numerous examples of conical cups with string cut bases, small and medium shouldered jars (see eg. A6.236 and A15.299 in assemblage A15b1 in f523), round sided bowls with rims slightly curved inward (e.g. A1.41 and A15q1233.9 also in assemblage A15b1.

Further study of the ceramic vessels found in the room showed that the room contained some restricted neck jars but none with folded rims and none that had grooved rims. The jars in this room when they had some decoration were decorated with rope decorations on the upper body of the vessel; this is a decoration type carried over from the ED III period. Considering all this ceramic evidence it is difficult to positively determine whether the date of this room is from the time period of the palace use or the later period of Tar'am-Agade.

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