Intercultural Style Chlorite Cylindrical Cup

SKU LM.3
Circa

3000 BC to 2000 BC

Medium

Chlorite

Origin

Near East

Gallery Location

S Korea


 

Chlorite is a distinctive gray-green stone that was utilized during antiquity for the fabrication of luxurious containers in the greater Gulf region as well as southern Iran. Excavations at the archeological site of Tepe Yaya, dated to the mid-third millennium B.C., in Iran unearthed the ruins of workshops where such vessels were discovered. As well, raw materials used for their manufacture, chlorite as well as steatite, quarried from the nearby hills were also present. On the island of Tarut, in the Gulf close to the Arabian coast, over six hundred complete and fragmentary vessels and weights have been unearthed. Because many partially formed objects found on Tarut were discovered next to chunks of unworked chlorite, it has been surmised that this island was once a center of production for these works. Found throughout the ancient Near East, from Syria to the Indus Valley, revealing the extensive trade routes of the time, these works are classified by modern historians as belonging to the “Intercultural Style,” called so because they derive iconographical elements from both Near Eastern and Harappan traditions. Much like the written cuneiform alphabet was used by several distinct cultures throughout the ancient Near East to dictate their individual spoken languages, so such vessels were created by various cultures, each adorning the works with their own distinct aesthetic style. Many examples were discovered in the ruins of palace and temple structures or entombed in the graves of the nobility, including Sumerian Mesopotamia. Clearly these vessels were among the most precious luxury items that could only be afforded by the ruling elite.

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