Pocket timeline to Mesopotamia, £7.99
Height: 8.400 cm
Width: 6.800 cm
Capacity: 5.300 litres
Room 52: Ancient Iran
Jar with stamped decoration
Sasanian, 6th century
From Borsippa, southern Iraq
Although this vessel was discovered at ancient Borsippa in southern Mesopotamia, its form and decoration suggest that it may be an import from central Mesopotamia where this type of pottery was more common. It is decorated with stamped designs, and is therefore typical of pottery found at Late Sasanian settlements. This commonly included large or medium-sized jars impressed around the outside with wooden stamps. Many of the dies were circular, and we know they were carved from wood as the grain of the dies themselves are sometimes visible on impressed surfaces. A small number of square stamps were also used, and one such was used to decorate this vessel.
Some of the square stamps have animal and geometric motifs also typical of Sasanian art on stucco, metalwork and seals. Analysis of the distribution and style of various stamps suggests several regional ceramic production centres. Indeed during the Sasanian period large industrial sites dedicated to pottery and glass manufacture developed next to canals in central and southern Mesopotamia. Excavations have revealed square kilns measuring over four metres across.
J. Curtis, Ancient Persia (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)
St J. Simpson, 'Mesopotamia in the Sasanian period: settlement patterns, arts and crafts' in Mesopotamia and Iran in the Pa (London, The British Museum Press, 2000), pp. 57-66, plates 30-34, colour plate XII
D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
St J. Simpson, 'Partho-Sasanian ceramic industries in Mesopotamia' in Pottery in the making: world-3 (London, The British Museum Press, 1997), pp. 74-79