Byzantine and Russian icons, £15.99
Height: 7.600 cm
Diameter: 5.900 cm
Room 54: Anatolia and Urartu
Anatolian Chalcolithic, around 5000 BC
Possibly from Hacilar, modern Turkey
This painted jar has designs like those found on pottery from Hacilar, excavated by James Mellaart between 1957 and 1960, although the shape is slightly different. The Hacilar potters were able to produce high-quality wares with beautifully executed, bright geometric designs that may reflect designs on textiles. The ceramics were well shaped and evenly fired.
Pottery workshops were found in an earlier level at Hacilar in the village centre. Grindstones were used to break up the natural pigments of red and yellow ochre for colouring the pottery. Alongside them were cups of paint, storage areas for the clay and modelling tools, and unpainted but burnished pottery. No kilns were discovered and the firing may have taken place outside the settlement. This type of pottery has also been found at other sites in western Anatolia, and at Mersin on the south-east coast of Turkey.
The jar dates to the so-called Chalcolithic (literally 'copper-stone') period when copper started to be more widely used. In Anatolia there was an increase in permanent settlement based on farming, although the largest part of the population was probably still semi-nomadic. By the beginning of the fifth millennium BC, Hacilar had been abandoned, and with the end of the settlement came an end to the fine pottery tradition.