Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Cone-shaped vase with geometric decoration

ca. late 5th millennium B.C.
Iran, Tall-i Bakun A
Ceramic, paint
8.12 in. (20.62 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund and Gifts of Lucy W. Drexel, Theodore M. Davis, Helen Miller Gould, Albert Gallatin, Egypt Exploration Fund and Egyptian Research Account, by exchange, 1950
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 402
This cone-shaped pot comes from a site near Persepolis called Tall-i Bakun A. Excavations conducted at the site in 1932 uncovered large amounts of prehistoric pottery, much of it in the form of complete, undamaged vessels still in place in storerooms, suggesting that the village was hastily abandoned in the ancient past. Like much of the pottery from Iran in the Chalcolithic Period (ca. 5500-3000 B.C.), ceramics from Tall-i Bakun A are remarkably varied in both form and decoration, attesting to the skill and creativity of the artisans in this early period. Conical vessels such as this one are among the most finely made, with almost eggshell-thin walls and crisply painted geometric decoration. A group of conical cups was stored in one room at the site with some nested in each other, suggesting they were used as a set. The sharply tapered end would not allow it to stand and hold liquid at the same time, so it must have been held while in use. Other remarkable finds from Tall-i Bakun A include stone stamp seals and lumps of clay that had been impressed with stamp seals, suggesting that the seals were not only personal objects but also administrative tools. In other words, they were used to indicate ownership of commodities stored within containers, by sealing the containers with lumps of clay and marking those clay lumps with a stamp seal impression.
1932, excavated by the Persian Expedition of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago; ceded to the Oriental Institute in the division of finds; acquired by the Museum in 1950, through an exchange of objects with the Oriental Institute.

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department,” MOA Museum of Art, Atami, Japan, The Aiche Prefectural Art Gallery, Nagoya, Japan, The Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan, 1983.

Harper, Prudence O. 1983. "The Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department, exh. cat. Tokyo: Chunichi Shimbun, fig. 7.
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