Cup with geometric decoration


Not on view

This cup is shaped like a modern teacup, albeit without a handle. It has a ring base, curved sides, and a straight rim. It is made of grey clay with extensive painted red decoration, including crosshatching, checkerboards, diamonds and dots. Wheel lines on the interior indicate that it was made on a potter’s wheel.

This cup was excavated at Tepe Sialk, near Kashan in central Iran. Sialk was the site of a fortified town, constructed in the early first millennium B.C. Several hundred yards from the town there was a large cemetery, called Necropolis B by the archaeologists who explored it between 1933 and 1937. The graves were pits covered with pitched roofs made of stone or clay, and in addition to the bodies of the dead they contained jewelry, weapons, leather armor, horse trappings and ceramic vessels, including many similar cups. Possibly it was used in a funerary banquet or ritual before it was placed in the grave; regardless, its burial in the cemetery shows that drinking was an important part of life and death in Iron Age Sialk.

Cup with geometric decoration, Ceramic, paint, Iran

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