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Storage jar decorated with mountain goats

ca. 3800–3700 B.C.
Central Iran
Ceramic, paint
20 7/8in. (53cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1959
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Traditions of making painted pottery flourished in agricultural villages throughout the Near East by the late Neolithic period of the seventh millennium B.C. These early ceramics were made by hand in a variety of techniques, including coil, mold, and slab construction, and served as cooking, serving, and storage vessels.

    This large storage jar is a masterpiece of early pottery making. Produced in the early fourth millennium B.C. on the Iranian plateau, in a style known from excavations at the site of Tepe Sialk, it is a large buff-colored jar painted with dark brown designs. The geometric decoration on the upper portion of the vessel divides it into three panels. In each of these panels is the stylized image of an ibex shown in right profile to highlight the great arch of its exaggerated horns. The ibex was the most common motif in prehistoric ceramics of highland Iran, perhaps because of its symbolic significance as prey to hunters.

  • Provenance

    Acquired by the Museum in 1959, purchased from Khalil Rabenou, New York.

  • References

    Crawford, Vaughn E. et al. 1966. Guide to the Ancient Near East Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p.4, fig. 2.

    Rousseau, Theodore. 1970. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 29 (3), p. 133.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1970. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries, exh. cat. New York: Dutton, no. 2, p. 77.

    Hibbard, Howard. 1980. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Harper and Row, fig. 100, p. 50, 53.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1983. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, fig. 1, p. 46.

    Imai, Ayako. 1983. In The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department, exh. cat. Tokyo: Chunichi Shimbun, no. 32.

    Harper, Prudence O. et al. 1984. "Ancient Near Eastern Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 41 (4), Spring 1984, p. 42, fig. 58.

    Porter, Barbara A. 1986. Art of the Ancient Near East: Permanent galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 10.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History