Polychrome glazed jars

Neo-Assyrian, 8th-7th century BC
From Ashur, northern Iraq

Though rare, there is some very attractive painted pottery from ancient Assyria. The best-known examples are glazed wares, and the small polychrome (multi-coloured) glazed jars with a leaf pattern around the shoulder are particularly distinctive. The most popular colours seem to have been blue-green, orange or yellow, and white. The standard jars found in Ashur are 8 to 9 centimetres high, with larger examples reaching as much as four or five times that size.

In the Near East glazes were applied to clay vessels from the middle of the second millennium BC. This occurred at the same time as the first experiments with the manufacture of glass vessels, and the development of the two techniques was probably related. Polychrome glazing had certainly been mastered both on bricks and pottery by the very beginning of the first millennium BC. The technical problem of the different coloured glazes running and mixing was solved by setting them between glaze outlines. It is possible that glazed pottery was inspired from Babylonia or southern Iraq. Drinking cups, open bowls, and dishes do not seem to have been glazed in this way, so the glazed jars, presumably part of a luxury industry, may have been containers for valuable ointments.

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More information

Bibliography

P.R.S. Moorey, Ancient Mesopotamian materials (Oxford, 1994)

J.E. Curtis and J.E. Reade (eds), Art and empire: treasures from (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

Dimensions

Diameter: 4.450 cm (rim)
Height: 11.000 cm
Diameter: 4.450 cm (rim)
Height: 11.000 cm
Diameter: 4.450 cm (rim)
Height: 11.000 cm
Diameter: 4.450 cm (rim)
Height: 11.000 cm

Museum number

ME 116375-6, 116378-9

WCO23741;WCO23742;WCO23743;WCO23744

Location

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