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An Ancient Iranian burnished Greyware Vessel, ca 3rd millennium BC

a good greyware burnished vessel, the elegant rounded shape with long, wide neck, out-turned flat rim and flat base, and four applied handles to the shoulder, the neck interior and overall exterior highly burnished with the upper surface of the shoulder carefully decorated by a sophisticated zig-zag pattern.   

Background:  This form suggests a strong influence from contemporary metal working for the metallic appearance of this ceramic is enhanced by the burnished surface and the subtle pattern.  Similar examples have been excavated at Tureng Tepe (see The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania (32-41-32)  and Yarim Tepe (see: Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY (63.102.10) For at least the next two thousand years, and probably longer, fine gray wares were made across the entire northern section of Iran, and burnishing remained an element in the Iranian potter's technical repertory even longer.  The appearance of pattern-burnished gray wares stimulated scholars to search for the source of such distinctive ceramics. Some writers associated these pots with the arrival of Iranian-speaking people from central Asia. Iranians had already been linked to the later gray-ware of northwestern Iran and it was assumed that the grayware of the third millennium signaled the first wave of these people.   Bibliography:  Kawami, T  " Ancient Iranian ceramics from the Arthur M Sackler Collections"  (Sackler Foundation, 1991) pages 19 - 20 and Gunter, Ann et al " Asian Traditions in Clay: Ancient Iranian Ceramics"  Smithsonian Institution, (2ooo) page 24, #9 for a parallel without handles, donated by the Hauge family. 

Condition: Intact and in very good condition overall.  Expected loss to the burnished surface in places, with limestone deposits to the exterior and interior neck.  A lovely example.

Dimensions:  Height: 18 cm (7.08 inches) 

Provenance:    Forming part of the James Stephan Snr. collection, assembled in the late  1960's and then by descent.  Dr. Stephan was a US intelligence officer who also held a degree in archaeology.  He was posted in the Anatolian region of Turkey with the US government during this time, and acquired his collection from dealers and villagers throughout the region.

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