G. Buccellati, November 2009.
Last updated December 2013 (L. Recht) and February 2024 (M. De Pietri).


Reading Figurines
Animal Representations in Terra Cotta from Royal Building AK

Rick Hauser
Urkesh/Mozan Studies 5
Bibliotheca Mesopotamica 28, Malibu: Undena Publications, 2007.
PDF (40.5 MB)

Cf. also the topical book on "Animal figurines".

     This volume has as subject the animal figurines recovered from Royal Storehouse AK at Urkesh (Tell Mozan). To the extent that the CATALOGS accurately represent the genera in this corpus, it is a reference tool and a baseline. Moreover, this work presents a typology, a way of classifying terra-cotta animal figurines in a systematic way. The method cannot be taken whole and superimposed on any other body of data. It was nonetheless our thought fiom the beginning that others might find ways to adapt this work and to apply it in different circumstances not necessarily contemporaneous with Mozan nor even within the same geographic, temporal or cultural provenience. In this, I share M. E. L. Mallowan's sentiment:

     “It will be seen that the catalogue makes very lengthy reading, and it is hoped that it may prove of some use as a work of general reference, since it has aimed at referring as widely as possible to similar or analogous material discovered on other ancient sites.” (Mallowan 1948)
     As for the tone and written style, I have kept in mind field reports that I have found particularly readable, namely, Mallowan's work on Arpachiya, Chagar Bazar, and Tell Brak (Mallowan 1936, 1937); Parrot's prose, including his summaries of Mesopotamian archeology (Parrot 1946 I, 1953 II); the Braidwood volumes on the Zagros flank (Braidwood 1983), including the frank and practical evaluations provided by Morales on the figurines from Sarab and Cayonii (for a more complete survey, see Morales 1990). Each of these studies is characterized by expansiveness and by a willingness to share information about context and process as well as artifact; the text moves effortlessly among these three aspects of archzological documentation without straining credulity or compromising the analysis. To the contrary.

     Some of these narratives are downright lively. I have wanted this text to be the same, so that the general reader might also find the subject and the treatment inviting. This narrative rather frequently speaks in the first person (singular and plural). This seemed natural and appropriate. I have felt that the personal process of discovery and the way a certain line of reasoning developed would be useful to others engaged in the analysis of artifacts, perhaps the more so as classification procedures are reevaluated.