MT1504

Sumerian Terracotta Mosaic Cone, Uruk Period, ca. 4000 to 3100 BC

Of simple form, this clay cone is rolled into a cigar shape with one end sharp, the other blunt.  

During Uruk period huge platforms were built to support vast ceremonial structures decorated in an equally elaborate fashion. Cones, such as this example, were baked, the blunt end dipped in black, red, or white paint, then pushed into the plaster covering the walls of these vast buildings, to decorate the surface.  The different colours produced decorative lozenges, triangles, straight and zigzag designs, possibly based on patterns formed by wickerwork and on the textiles, which would have originally hung over the building's walls as a protection.  The cones served to both decorate and to protect the mud brick walls from the sun, wind and occasional rain.  Such mosaics originated in southern Mesopotamia with some of the most impressive examples found at Uruk but the technique of decoration has been found in many other cities such as Ur and Eridu. Tens of thousands of clay cones were used and this mass production involved vast number of people with ultimately, an extraordinary result.

Condition:  Intact and in very good condition overall

Dimensions:  Overall length: 1 x 5 3/4 in. (2.5 x 14.6 cm)

Provenance:  English private collection, acquired by the owners grandfather, Major General Sir Charlton Spinks KBE, between 1915 and 1950, and by the owners mother, Mrs B.C. Phayre, while traveling in Jordan and Iran with her husband, Colonel R. D. H. Phayre, between the 1950's and 1960's.   Thereafter, private NY collection, on loan to the Michael C Carlos museum, Emory University from 2010 - 2015, loan number:  L2010.022.002.

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