Vase

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A hyperboloid vase with a flat circular base, from which the body curves out to form a carinated shape. The straight neck curves out to form a lip. Two small flat tubular handles are placed vertically near the bottom of the vessel. The mouth, the base of the neck and the handles are painted red. The neck has two continuous zigzag lines and the body has a curvilinear decoration at the level of the shoulders with four horse-shoe shapes. These in turn are decorated with triangular motifs. A piece of pottery of similar morphology can be seen at the Museum of Archaeology in Ankara, from the Early Chalcolithic Period, Level I (5700 - 6000 BC).

Around the year 7040 BC, in what is present-day Hacilar Höyük (in Turkey in the region of Anatolia), a pre-historic herding-agricultural culture developed and existed over almost 2000 years. Archaeologists have named this the “Hacilar Culture”. This site, totally excavated by English specialists, can be found in the orbit called the Fertile Crescent, where the Eastern Neolithic revolution had its origin. The importance of this geographic zone, which takes in the Levant, southern Anatolia and Mesopotamia, lies in the fact that it was where a fundamental change took place in human societies: they passed from a nomad existence to a sedentary, more organized form in which farming and animal husbandry were fostered to the detriment of hunting, fishing, and principally, gathering activities.

The constructions found in Hacilar were made of adobe, sun-dried brick, just like those in the other Anatolian cultures of this epoch, especially those in the nearby Çatal Höyuk. However, at the former site a certain architectural symmetry and spatial planning can be appreciated such as streets, places and bordered areas, among which temples and fortifications stand out. Although unpainted pottery dating from the beginning of the 6th millennium is conserved, from 5300 BC on, decorated vases with geometric designs begin the appear, as do statuettes of animals and solid figures, possibly representing divinities related to fertility (Museum of Archaeology, Ankara n.522).

The pottery is of great quality, moulded by hand, fired in open ovens, and decorated with red paint over a buff-coloured base with geometric motifs or stylized figures. There is a great variety of morphology (ovoid, cylindrical, hyperboloid forms) and small tubular handles placed vertically near the carinated profile. Given the formal characteristics and the decoration, the vases mentioned here come from Levels II A and B, and correspond to the chronology between the years 5400 – 5250 BC.

According to some anthropologists, the zigzag lines may refer to rivers and streams, while others says that they refer to the routes marked by cattle while they graze. In any case, the inclusion of animals and feminine figures in the Neolithic aesthetic would be associated with the transformation of human activity, leading to the representation of steatopygian goddesses (those with wide buttocks).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

- MELLART, J. Excavations at Hacilar. Vol. 1 y 2. Edinburgh. 1970.
- MELLART, J. “Excavations at Hacilar, 4th Preliminary Report”, Anatolian Studies, 11. 1961. p. 39-75.
- RICE, P.M. Pottery Analysis: a Sourcebook. University Chicago Press. 1987. p. 10-12.
- VANDEPUT, L. “The British Institute at Ankara: 60 years young”, Anatolian Studies, 58. 2008. p. 1-14.
- YAKAR, J. “The Language of Symbols in Prehistoric Anatolia”, Documenta Praehistorica, December. 2005. p. 111- 121.

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