Stucco column capital

Parthian, 1st-3rd centuries AD
From Uruk, southern Iraq

Portrait bust framed by acanthus leaves

The use of carved or moulded stucco (gypsum plaster) decoration on buildings became popular in Mesopotamia during the first century AD. Classical and Near Eastern motifs are combined in this type of decoration. The designs were either cut in wet stucco or formed in moulds. They were originally painted in bright colours. An important group of decorative stuccoes, including this column capital, was excavated in the nineteenth century at a Parthian building at the site of Uruk

The Parthian period witnessed many developments in architecture. During this time the iwan became a widespread architectural form. This was a great hall, open on one side with a high barrel-vaulted roof. Fast setting gypsum mortar was used in the construction. The increasing use of gypsum stucco decoration may be part of the same tradition.

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More information


V.S. Curtis, 'Parthian costume and culture' in Mesopotamia and Iran in the -1 (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)


Height: 20.000 cm
Width: 21.000 cm

Museum number

ME 92219


Excavated by William Kennett Loftus


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