Beak spout


Not on view

This beak spout was originally part of a ceramic pitcher made of red clay. Both the end of the beak and the neck that attached to the vessel are broken off. A curl sits on top of the beak at the back.

This object was excavated at Tepe Nush-i Jan, an Iron Age hilltop site about 60 km sound of Hamadan in western Iran. Nush-i Jan was occupied in the 7th and 6th centuries B.C., and its occupants are generally thought to be the Medes, an Iranian people known from Assyrian, Achaemenid and Biblical sources. Though the textual sources portray them as a powerful empire, archaeological evidence for the Medes has yet to sustain this impression. Rather, they seem to have lived in scattered fortified sites in western and central Iran, without any clear capital. Nush-i Jan, one of the best known of these sites, features two temples, a columned hall, and a fort. This spout was discovered in the ‘East Court,’ an open area next to the fort.

Spouted pitchers are a well-known feature of the Iron Age, especially in northwestern Iran. They are found in domestic contexts as well as in tombs, and presumably they were used to pour liquids containing dregs, such as wine. They do not, however, appear to be associated with any specific cultural group; rather they are part of a shared material culture tradition. This spout suggests that the Medes, who are thought to have migrated into western Iran sometime in the early first millennium B.C., adopted many aspects of existing material culture traditions, which is partly why Median art remains so difficult to identify.

Beak spout, Ceramic, Iran

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