British Museum collections, £12.99
Diameter: 20.800 cm
Gift of Boris Piotrovsky, Academy of Sciences of the Armenian SSR (1960)
Room 54: Anatolia and Urartu
Red burnished wine jug
Urartian, 7th century BC
From Karmir Blur, Republic of Armenia
These round, red-burnished jugs are typical of Urartian sites and are sometimes of very fine quality. They were used for removing small quantities of wine from huge storage jars. A store-room next to the wine cellars at Karmir Blur contained 1036 wine jugs of this type.
The Urartian name for Karmir Blur ('Red Hill') was Teishebaini, 'the city of Teisheba' (the god of storms). A fortress was built here by King Rusa II (about 685-645 BC). This has been excavated, but only small areas of the partially-fortified residential town have been explored. It seems the houses were clustered together in groups, with up to five houses in each, and the groups were arranged along eleven streets.
The citadel itself is thought to have been used by an administrator, perhaps a governor, and his court. It consisted of 150 rooms and projecting towers built over a storeroom on a platform of stone rubble. The palace ceremonial quarters were on an upper floor, located above the storerooms and workshops. Seven wine cellars were found with pithoi (large storage vessels) sunk into the floor. These had a total capacity of 9000 gallons. In addition there were granaries estimated to hold up to 750 tons of grain. 'They had timber roofs, the pinewood beams of which were so well preserved that a local violin-maker was able to use a piece of the wood to make the sounding board of a violin which was played by a member of the Erevan Philharmonic Orchestra.' (Piotrovsky)
The Urartians were the neighbours and main rivals of the north Mesopotamian Assyrians during the ninth and eighth centuries BC. They disappear from history in the sixth century, perhaps as a result of invasions of nomadic groups such as the Scythians from central Asia, associated with the Medes from western Iran
B. Piotrovsky, The ancient civilization of Ur (Geneva, Nagel, 1969)
D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
M. Joukowsky, Early Anatolia (Kendall Hunt, 1996)