Pocket timeline to Mesopotamia, £7.99
Diameter: 10.310 cm
Height: 7.140 cm
Room 56: Mesopotamia
Late Prehistoric period, about 3000-2500 BC
This pottery jar was excavated by Hormuzd Rassam in the nineteenth century and he gave it to Brighton Museum before it came to The British Museum. It belongs to a style of pottery known as Ninevite 5, after pottery of this type was found to be limited to level number 5 in a deep sounding (test-hole) made at Nineveh during excavations conducted in 1931-2.
The pottery is found at many sites in northern Mesopotamia dating to the first half of the third millennium BC. It falls into two groups: an earlier group dominated by painted pottery and a later group in which grey vessels with incisions, like this one, are the commonest.
Pottery shapes and their decoration change through time, and are thus one of the most important tools for archaeologists trying to date a site. Pottery can be compared between sites and a chronological sequence of change built up. It is also possible to see changes in the number of settlements in a region. For example, surveys of the north Tigris region have shown that a number of sites with Ninevite 5 pottery also had an earlier type of pottery. The sites had clearly continued to be occupied. There was, however, many smaller settlements that only had the earlier pottery and were obviously abandoned before the Ninevite 5 period.
T.J. Wilkinson and D.J. Tucker, Settlement development in the (British School of Archaeology in Iraq, 1995)