Pottery jar

Mitannian, about 1370-1270 BC
From Alalakh (modern Tell Atchana), Syria

Atchana ware

This is an example of 'Atchana' ware from the site of ancient Alalakh (modern Tell Atchana). This distinctive style of painted pottery appears across north Syria and north Mesopotamia from around 1500 BC until the thirteenth century BC. When found in the east it is known as 'Nuzi Ware'. The most common shape is a tall, graceful goblet. This bottle form is comparatively rare. The vessels were made on a wheel from a fine clay. Designs were either painted in white on a matt black or red background or on the buff-colour of the clay itself. Both techniques were used on some vessels. Among the most popular motifs were a great variety of very carefully drawn geometric patterns and birds.

Atchana ware dates from a time when north Mesopotamia and Syria were dominated by Mitanni, the political name for a loose confederation of Hurrian city states. The major population spoke the Hurrian language and it is possible that the coalition formed to counter the threat of the growing power of the Hittites in Anatolia. Indeed, by the mid-fourteenth century BC, the Hittites had taken control of western Mitanni while the east was being absorbed into the expanding kingdom of Assyria. 

Find in the collection online

More information


J.B. Hennessy, Masterpieces of Western and Ne, vol. 1 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1979)


Height: 33.500 cm
Width: 22.500 cm

Museum number

ME 126193


Excavated by C.L. Woolley


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore