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Vase with overlapping pattern and three bands of palm trees

ca. mid- to late 3rd millennium B.C.
Persian Gulf region or southern Iran
H. 23.5 cm
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Vessels carved of a gray-green stone in what is called the "Intercultural Style" were made in the greater Gulf area as well as in southern Iran. At the site of Tepe Yahya in Iran, workshops were found with vessels and the raw materials—chlorite or steatite—for their manufacture, dating to the mid-third millennium B.C. The stones were available in the nearby hills. Fragments of containers were also found at sites in the Gulf area. Vessels decorated in this style were found across the ancient Near East from Syria to the Indus Valley, evidence of the flourishing long-distance trade of the times.

    This piece has a tall shape with a flaring rim and is carved in alternating bands of an overlapping mountainlike pattern and date palm trees. The repertoire of motifs of the "Intercultural Style" includes vegetal, architectural, and abstract or naturalistic representations of people and animals.

    Many excavated examples have been found in palaces and temples or in graves of the privileged classes in major urban centers, including Sumerian (Early Dynastic) Mesopotamia. The vessels may also have been valuable for their contents.

  • Provenance

    By 1908, collection of J. Pierpont Morgan; between January 31st and May 7th, 1908, on loan by J. Pierpont Morgan to the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, Kelvingrove; acquired by the Museum in 1917, gift of J. Pierpont Morgan.

  • References

    Pijoán, José. 1931. Arte del Asia occidental. Summa Artis, Historia General del Arte, vol. II. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, p. 343, fig. 485.

    Herzfeld, Ernst. 1941. Iran in the Ancient East. London, New York: Oxford university press, pl. XXIV, no. 5, p. 90.

    Herz, Alexandra. 1966. "A Study of Steatite Vases of the Early Dynastic Period in Mesopotamia." MA Thesis, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, no. 10, p. 167.

    Durrani, F.A. 1964. "Stone Vases as Evidence of Connection between Mesopotamia and the Indus valley." Ancient Pakistan 1, 1964, pl. 1, fig. 8.

    Crawford, V. et al. 1966. Guide to the Ancient Near East Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 10, fig. 13.

    Harper, Prudence O. et al.1983. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department, exh. cat. Tokyo: Chunichi Shimbun, no. 3.

    Harper, Prudence O. et al. 1984. "Ancient Near Eastern Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 41 (4), Spring 1984, p. 33, figure 39.

    Pittman, Holly. 1984. Art of the Bronze Age: Southeastern Iran, Western Central Asia, and the Indus Valley. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 12, fig. 1.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History