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The Ninevite V Period and current research - article ; n°1 ; vol.11, pg 53-70


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Paléorient - Année 1985 - Volume 11 - Numéro 1 - Pages 53-70
Recent excavations in north Syria and Iraq have retrieved data allowing for a re-assessment of the constituent parts of the Ninevite V pottery assemblage, its distribution in time and space, and the cultural developments which transpired during its period of use. The available evidence indicates that the Ninevite V period was a transitional stage in the development of urbanization in northern Mesopotamia.
Des fouilles récentes dans le Nord de la Syrie et en Iraq ont permis une réévaluation des éléments qui constituent l'assemblage céramique Ninive V, de sa distribution dans le temps et dans l'espace et des traits culturels qui se sont manifestés au cours de cette période. La période Ninive V se présente comme une phase de transition dans le développement de l'urbanisation du Nord de la Mésopotamie.
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Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.


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Glenn M. Schwartz
The Ninevite V Period and current research
In: Paléorient. 1985, Vol. 11 N°1. pp. 53-70.
Des fouilles récentes dans le Nord de la Syrie et en Iraq ont permis une réévaluation des éléments qui constituent l'assemblage
céramique Ninive V, de sa distribution dans le temps et dans l'espace et des traits culturels qui se sont manifestés au cours de
cette période. La période Ninive V se présente comme une phase de transition dans le développement de l'urbanisation du Nord
de la Mésopotamie.
Recent excavations in north Syria and Iraq have retrieved data allowing for a re-assessment of the constituent parts of the
Ninevite V pottery assemblage, its distribution in time and space, and the cultural developments which transpired during its period
of use. The available evidence indicates that the Ninevite V period was a transitional stage in the development of urbanization in
northern Mesopotamia.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Schwartz Glenn M. The Ninevite V Period and current research. In: Paléorient. 1985, Vol. 11 N°1. pp. 53-70.
doi : 10.3406/paleo.1985.4361
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/paleo_0153-9345_1985_num_11_1_4361vol. 11/1-1985 PALÉORIENT,
ABSTRACT. — Recent excavations in north Syria and Iraq have retrieved data allowing for a a re-assessment of the constituent
parts of the Ninevite V pottery assemblage, its distribution in time and space, and the cultural developments which transpired during
its period of use. The available evidence indicates that the Ninevite V period was a transitional stage in the development of
urbanization in northern Mesopotamia.
RESUME. — Des fouilles récentes dans le Nord de la Syrie et en Iraq ont permis une réévaluation des éléments qui constituent
l'assemblage céramique Ninive V, de sa distribution dans le temps et dans l'espace et des traits culturels qui se sont manifestés au
cours de cette période. La période Ninive V se présente comme une phase de transition dans le développement de l'urbanisation du
Nord de la Mésopotamie.
The designation Ninevite V usually refers to one The first part of this paper will provide a brief
of two things :1) a variety of wheelmade incised or descriptive analysis of the Ninevite V pottery assemb
painted pottery first retrieved stratigraphically from lage, a discussion of refinements of ceramic chro
the fifth and latest level of Sir Max Mallowan's nology facilitated by the excavation of stratified
prehistoric sondage at Nineveh in 1931-32, and 2) sequences and the processing of radiocarbon dates,
the period of time when the incised and painted and a review of the geographical distribution of
pottery was in use in northern Mesopotamia, gener Ninevite V pottery. The second part of the paper will
ally thought to be somewhere between the end of discuss the socio-cultural developments of the
the fourth millennium and the mid-to-late third Ninevite V period. Evidence of a developing strati
millennium. Just over twenty years ago, Mallowan fied, complex society in Ninevite V times followed
outlined the then-current state of knowledge of by the appearance of large fortified cities in the
Ninevite V(l). Due to the recent proliferation of subsequent period suggest that the Ninevite V period
research in northern Mesopotamia, we can now was a transitional stage in the urbanization of
re-evaluate the temporal and spatial distribution of northern Mesopotamia.
Ninevite V pottery and the cultural significance of
its period of use.
Excavations at Tell Leilan in the northeast Habur THE NINEVITE V ASSEMBLAGE triangle have provided an extensive sequence of
stratified, quantitatively analyzed ceramics and a
series of radiocarbon dates for the period (2); This Ninevite V painted and incised ceramics are
sequence is derived from the Operation 1 step found in consistent association with undecorated
trench, strata 40-16, Leilan Period 111(3) and from ceramics, forming an assemblage of decorated and the Operation 2 and 57F02 soundings on the Leilan plain pottery that can be divided into five wares (see
Lower Town (4). A similar long sequence as well as Table I).
a broad horizontal exposure is in the process of
retrieval at Mohammed Arab in the Eski Mosul 1) Incised Ware vessels are generally wheelmade, region along the Tigris (5). In addition, research at high-fired, and thin-walled (3-5 mm), with occasioTell Barri and Tell Brak in the eastern Habur nal fine grit or straw inclusions (ca. .1-.5 mm diamettriangle and at Telul-eth-Thalathat on the Sinjar er of grit inclusions or length of straw inclusions) or plain have added to the sample of excavated without visible temper. The most common paste Ninevite V contexts (6). colors are light yellow, light pink, light gray, and
greenish-gray buff; some examples are dark gray
with exterior burnish. (1) MALLOWAN, 1964.
(2) SCHWARTZ, 1982; WEISS, 1981/2; WEISS, 1983. 2) Painted Ware vessels are usually wheelmade (3) The Operation 1 Period III sample consists of twenty-five
strata from a deposit five meters in depth, excavated in an area and straw or sometimes grit tempered. Paste color is
4.5 x 14 meters at its largest extent (ca. 85.5 cubic meters of light yellow or light pinkish buff, with the frequent excavated deposit). A sample of 2,651 diagnostic sherds was addition of a slip (7). recovered from reliable contexts.
(4) NICHOLAS, n.d., 1981.
(5) KILLICK, 1983.
(6) PECORELLA and SALVIN1, 1982; D. OATES, 1982a, (7) See MALLOWAN, 1964 for a discussion of incised and
1982b; FUKAI et al., 1974). painted decoration.
The Mnevite V Ware and Shape Repertoire.
(cup = open form with slightly inverted upper body , rim diam.< 15cm;
bowl = open form , rim diam. >=15 cm;
pot = closed form without a neck;
jar =with a neck)
Incised Ware
(1) wide-mouthed open bowls with pedestal bases (Speiser 1933: PI. L 1,2)
(2)flat bases ( fig. 1:5)
(3) cups with slightly inverted simple, bead, or cocked rims and pointed bases
(fig. 1:3,4,6,7; fig. 5:23)
(4) miniature jars with shoulder lugs( Mallowan 1936: fig. 19, 1-3)
(5) tall-necked jars (fig. 1:1) (Campbell Thompson and Hamilton 1932: PI. LV 5)
(6)without lugs and 1932:
PI. LVIII 23,24)
(7) jars with simple everted rims (Campbell Thompson and Hamilton 1932:
Painted ware
(1) wide-mouthed open bowls with pedestal bases (fig. 2: 1,3)
(2) carinated open forms with slightly simple or bead rims and flat or round
bases ( Campbell Thompson and Hamilton 1932: Pl.LIII)
(3) cups with slightly inverted bead rims (Mallowan 1937: fig. 25:1)
(4) carinated tall necked jars with or without lugs (fig. 2,4,5) (Campbell
Thompson and Hamilton 1932: PI. LV 1-3, 6-8)
(5) high-shouldered tall-necked jars without lugs , with pedestal bases
(Campbell Thompson and Hamilton 1932: PI. LVI I)
Fine plain ware
(1) wide-mouthed open bowls with pedestal bases (Mallowan 1937: fig. 25:2)
(2)flat bases ( fig. 1:8)
(3) cups with slightly inverted simple, bead, or cocked rims and pointed or
round bases ( fig. 1:9, fig. 4:7, fig. 5:4) (Mallowan 1933: PL LUI 1-3)
(4) miniature jars with shoulder lugs (Campbell Thompson and Hamilton 1932:P1.
LVIII: 17, 18)
(5) tall-necked jars (Speiser 1933: PI. LIII:4)
(6) jars with simple everted rims (Biscione 1982: fig. 11)
Medium plain Ware
(1) open bowls with simple, flat , ledge , bevel or pinched rims ( fig. 4:9-11,
(2) tall-necked jars ( Biscione 1982: fig. 26)
(3) jars with simple everted rims ( fig. 5:5) (Mallowan 1936: fig. 11: 1,5,13)
(4) short-necked large storage jars (Fukai et al. 1974: PI. LIV)
Cooking ware
(1) hole-mouthed pots with round bases and crescent-shaped lugs just below the
rim ( fig. 3: 1-3) (Fukai et_aL_ 1974: PI. LII 15-17; Biscione 1982: 46,
fig. 30, 31; Mallowan 1937: fig. 19, 14)
(2) flat discs with handles ( fig. 3: 7-8) ( Fukai et al. 1974: 55, PI.
LVIII: 1,2)
most common shapes of this ware are hole-mouth 3) Fine Plain Ware is similar to Incised Ware but
vessels with crescent-shaped lugs just below the rim, is undecorated.
and flat discs (probably lids) with handles. Sherds
decorated with fingernail impressed designs can 4) Medium Plain Ware is thicker-walled than
sometimes be associated with the hole-mouth vessels Incised or Fine Plain Ware, straw or grit tempered
(fig. 3 : 4-6). Cooking Ware is found together with (usually with larger inclusions than Incised or Fine
painted or incised Ninevite V pottery in all strata of Plain Ware), wheel turned or sometimes handmade,
Tell Leilan Period III and at Telul-eth-Thalathat and light yellow or light pinkish buff in color.
Tell V, Mohammed Arab (8), and Tell Brak (9).
5) Cooking Ware, whose association with Nine-
vite V pottery has not previously received due
consideration, is a handmade light brown straw or (8) R. KILLICK, pers. comm.
grit tempered ceramic, occasionally burnished. The (9) J. OATES, pers. comm.
54 :
at Leilan and Mohammed Arab, no well-stratified Unpublished specimens exist from Nineveh (10),
sequence of Ninevite V deposits had been retrieved. Tell Billa(ll), and Tepe Gawra(12), affirming the
presence of this pottery to the east of the Tigris as Levels V and IV at Nineveh were considerably
disturbed by later intrusions, and artifacts from well.
those levels had to be classified on stylistic and not The Leilan results supply the first quantified data
stratigraphie grounds (15). At Chagar Bazar 4-5, on the distribution of wares in a Ninevite V assem
most of the pottery was retrieved from graves blage (13) (Table II). In Leilan Period III, Medium
stratified above a lengthy gap in occupation. Billa Plain Ware is the most common ware type in earlier
7-6 was founded on virgin soil and was published strata but is later outnumbered by Fine Plain Ware.
minimally. At Tepe Gawra, very few vessels from a Incised Ware is usually slightly less abundant than
good context could be confidently compared to Fine Plain or Medium Plain Ware but always
Ninevite V examples; a small painted Ninevite V constitutes a much larger percentage of the sample chalice excavated in a test trench "at the level of than Painted Ware. Incised and Fine Plain Ware Stratum VII" (16) is of little use both because of its sherds increase in popularity through time, while uncertain stratigraphie context and of its Painted Ware sherds experience a decrease in
uniqueness at the site. popularity. No clear chronological pattern of chan
The data from recent excavations now permit us ging frequencies is exhibited by the Cooking Ware
to gain a firmer grasp of the temporal distribution of hole-mouth vessels with crescent lugs or by the flat
discs. Ninevite V. Let us begin by defining the temporal
Relative Frequencies of Selected Ceramic Traits, Leilan III, Operation 1.
Numbers in columns 2-7 represent the percentage of sherds with the given ceramic trait out of the total diagnostic sherds from reliable
contexts in the given stratigraphie unit. The Operation 1 pottery was split into a larger number of ware types than those suggested here for
the entire Ninevite V assemblage; these types therefore represent a "lumping" of Operation 1 types. Handmade vessel sherds not
unequivocally from hole-mouth vessels with crescent lugs or from flat discs are assigned to Medium Plain Ware.
STRATA Incised Painted Fine Medium Cooking Cooking Raw count of
Plain Plain Ware : Ware : Diagnostic Sherds Ware Ware Flat from Reliable Ware Ware Rim or
Disc Contexts Body Sherds Sherds
with Cresc.
28 4 1 418 18-16 21 1 45
25 2 35 33 4 1 527 20-19 28 6 3 161 24-21 24 2 37
1 64 12 2 3 1062 31-25 19 151 34-32 14 9 22 36 6 13
46 4 4 227 38-35 18 9 19
17 14 25 38 2 3 105 40-39
TEMPORAL DISTRIBUTION limits of the period. Ninevite V pottery first appears
in large quantities after the decline of Uruk-related
assemblages in northern Mesopotamia. Leilan IV
Although Ninevite V pottery is often employed as was characterized by a local coarse ware assemblage
a chronological diagnostic for early third millen augmented by beveled rim bowls; the same coarse
nium northern Mesopotamia (14), its precise dating ware assemblage has now been identified in the
has been difficult to establish. Until the recent work Karababa region on the Upper Euphrates in associa
tion with numerous southern Mesopotamian Uruk
ceramic types (17). A Late Uruk type assemblage
(10) A disc fragment and two rim sherds from hole-mouth precedes the Ninevite V levels at Mohammed Arab
vessels with crescent lugs were noted in the collections of the as well (18). The association of incised Ninevite V
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. pottery with beveled rim bowls at the bottom of the (11) Drawings and descriptions of three "brown ware" rim ST sounding at Tell Brak further illustrates an sherds with crescent lugs from hole-mouth vessels and three discs
with handles of the same ware are associated with Billa 6 and 7
in field notes now on file in the archives at the University
(15) M ALLO WAN, 1933 138. See, for example, the painted Museum, Philadelphia.
Habur ware sherds mixed with painted Ninevite V sherds (MAL- (12) A complete hole-mouth vessel with crescent lugs and
LOWAN, 1933 PI. LVIII, 1, 12; HAMLIN, 1971 156-7). rounded base in the University Museum, Philadelphia, is attribu
ted to Gawra V and is perhaps an heirloom (no. 5094, 32.21.34). (16) SPEISER, 1935 154.
(17) SCHWARTZ, 1984. (13) SCHWARTZ, 1982.
(18) KILLICK, 1983. (14) PERKINS, 1949; PORADA, 1965.
55 :
Uruk-Ninevite V transition (19), as does the admit Apart from the fixing of termini ante and post
tedly ill-understood from Nineveh IV to V. quern, the data from recent fieldwork allow us to
recognize patterns of ceramic change within the
Ninevite V period itself. At Tell Leilan, Period III The end of the Ninevite V period must have has been divided into three sub-periods on the basis occurred by the Sargonic period if not before. In the of the relative frequencies of ceramic traits, with the Leilan Lower Town soundings, incised sherds d assistance of k-means cluster analysis (25). Each isappear by sub-period lib (20), which includes sub-period is associated with ceramic characteristics pottery comparable to Chagar Bazar 3-2, Brak which differentiate it from preceding and succeeding Sargonid levels, and the "late Early Dynastic III"
strata (Table III). and Agade pottery of the recent Tell Brak excavat
ions (21). No incised or painted Ninevite V examp A gap in the Operation 1 stratigraphie record
les are attested from Sargonid levels at Brak or follows the five strata of IIIc, the latest Period III
Chagar Bazar 3-2, each linked to the Sargonic period sub-period. The gap is at least partially filled by
by epigraphic evidence (22), and incised Ninevite V material from the Leilan Lower Town soun
pottery appears below the Late Early Dynastic III dings (26), where ceramic frequencies indicate that
and Agade levels in sounding ST at Tell Brak (23). the earliest occupation above virgin soil commenced
Neither is there Ninevite V pottery at the beginning after the Operation 1 stratum 16 time period. The
of the sequence from Tell Taya, which is to be dated ceramic sample from the earliest Lower Town strata,
to the Sargonic period at the latest because of designated Leilan sub-period lia, includes fine ware
ceramic connections to Brak Sargonid levels, Gaw- open forms, occasionally incised, with slightly inver
ted bead or simple rims. Some of the incised motifs ra VI (with Akkadian seals), and Billa 5 (24).
Tell Leilan, Period III, Operation 1 : Sub-periods and Diagnostic Ceramic Criteria.
Sub Period Strata Diagnostic ceramic criteria
20-16 Incised (or "excised") motifs: IIIc
slashed designs (fig. 5:7, 8, 10, 1 1 , 13)
panels ( fig.5:9,12,i4)
lined zigzags (fig. 5 : 17 , 19)
vertical grooves (fig. 5 : 15 , 16,20,23)
Everted simple rim jars (fig. 5: 5)
Slightly inverted simple rim Incised or Fine
Plain ware cups (fig.5:1-2)
Illb 34-21 Thin vertical applied bands on Incised Ware
cups (fig. 4:2, 4, 6)
Horizontal ribs on Incised Ware cups (fig. 4:
Pointed base cups with slightly inverted bead
rims (point of greatest popularity) (fig. 4:7)
Pedestal bases (point of greatest popularity)
(fig. 4:8)
Ilia 40-35 Incised motifs:
Dotted triangles with rows of many dots (Ilia
and early Illb) (fig. 4:14)
Simple incision below the rim with many notched
horizontal bands beneath (fig.4:10)
Crude horizontal incised lines (fig. 4: 12)
Beveled rim open bowls of straw-tempered Medium
Plain Ware (fig. 4:9)
Ledge rim open bowls of Medium
Plain Ware (fig. 4: 11)
(19) D. OATES, 1982a.
(20) NICHOLAS, n.d., 1981. excavations at Tell Brak have retrieved a few examples (J.
(21) MALLOWAN, 1936, 1947; J. OATES, 1982. OATES, pers. comm.), and a handful of Taya incised sherds are
in the Brak sherd collection at the Institute of Archaeology, (22) GADD, 1937 178; GADD, 1940 24; MALLOWAN,
1947 66, 69. University of London. The latter were labeled with the same
(23) J. OATES, pers. comm. provenience information (« Fill 5/2 ») as a group of incised
(24) READE, 1968. Both the vessel shapes and design motifs Leilan IIIc type sherds, perhaps suggesting a brief contemporan
of Taya IX-VI type incised pottery differ from those of Ninev eity of the two styles at Brak. One Taya incised sherd is in the
ite V, and the two assemblages should not be grouped together. Tell Ailun sherd collection in Berlin.
Taya IX-VI incised pottery is most common on the Sinjar-Tell (25) SCHWARTZ, 1982.
Afar plain but is occasionally found to the west. The recent (26) NICHOLAS, n.d., 1981.
56 :
The presence of two Leilan IIIc type incised familiar from II Ic (lined zigzag, slashed, panel), are
sherds in early contexts at Tell Chuera furnishes new but new varieties appear, characterized by zigzag
evidence for the date of the occupation (27). lines without slashes or hatching between them
Since Leilan IIIc type sherds were recovered from (fig. 6). If the incised sherds are not simply residual
deep contexts at Chuera, the majority of the Chuera from a IIIc context, Leilan Ha must represent a very
occupation must have taken place at the very end of late stage of Ninevite V.
or after the Ninevite V period. Such a date agrees The periodization of Ninevite V strata at Tell with the other Chuera ceramic parallels to Sargonid Leilan permits a relative dating of Ninevite V sites and Late Early Dynastic III Tell Brak and Chagar with respect to each other (Table IV). Given the Bazar 2-3. Similarly, the Chuera parallels to the absence of quantified date from excavated Ninev Amuq I-J/Mardikh IIB1-2 period assemblage at ite V sites other than Leilan, we are constrained to
use presence-absence information to suggest possi
ble equivalencies. We must also keep in mind the (27) KUHNE, 1976 Abb. 404, from the bottom of the deep limited nature of the Leilan sounding and the sounding in Rm. 1, Steinbau 1 ; Abb. 405, from the deep sounding
relatively small ceramic sample retrieved from it. in Schnitt A4, Steinbau 3.
Suggested Correlation of Ninevite V Sites and Leilan Sub-periods.
Site: Comparable Ceramic References : Suggested
Characteristics : Leilan
Chagar Bazar 5 slightly inverted bead rim cups Mallowan 1936: Fig. 18,
1-5,7 incised dotted triangles with rows ibid. : Fig. 18, 1,3,5-8;
of many dots Fig. 19, 2-4 incision under the rim with rows of ibid. : Fig. 18, 2,4,5 horizontal notched bands beneath
Chagar Bazar 4 everted simple rim jars ibid. : Fig. 11, 1,5,13;
Fig. 12, 1,10 IIIc incised panel motifs ibid. : Plate III 1,2
Billa 6 panels and slashed incised motifs Speiser 1933: Plate LXX-LXXI IIIc Telul-eth- slightly inverted bead rim cups Fukai et. аД. 1974: Plate XLVII pedestal bases Thalathat, ibid. : Plate XLIX 1,2,4,12 Tell V horizontal rib incised motifs : XLVII 13,19-22, Illb 34 incision under the rim with rows ibid. : Plate XLVII 8,9 of horizontal notched bands beneath
Nineveh V slightly inverted bead rim cups Mallowan 1933: Plate LIII 1-5 pedestal bases ibid. : Plate LIII 13,14 horizontal rib incised motifs : 4,6,7 incised dotted triangles with ibid. : Plate LXIII 5 rows of many dots
incision under the rim with rows of ibid. : Plate LIII 12
horizontal notched bands beneath
incised panel, vertical groove, and ibid. : Plate LXII other "excised" motifs panel and horizontal lined Barri , Biscione 1982: Fig. 3,6,8
upper levels, zigzag motifs IIIc
everted simple rim jars ibid. : Fig. 11,12 third millen
nium sounding
slightly inverted bead rim cups ibid. : Fig. 40 Barri, : 64,66-68 lower levels, pedestal bases Illb
third millen
nium sounding
Ailun incised horizontal lined zigzags Moortgat 1957: Abb. 11,12;
unpublished sherds in Berlin panels 1957: Abb. 11; IIIc sherds in
incised vertical grooves in Berlin panel and horizontal lined Mallowan 1937: Fig. 25, 4,5; Arbit unpublished sherds in London zigzag motifs IIIc
incised slashed and vertical groove in
Chuera incised panel and horizontal lined Kuhne 1976: Abb. 404,405; IIIc
Tafel 39 7,8 zigzag motifs
57 :
Selenkahiye on the Middle Euphrates support a The glyptic evidence from the Ninevite V period
mid-third millennium date for the Chuera assem is relatively slim. At Nineveh V, Telul-eth-Thalathat
blage (28) Although Kuhne proposed an Early Tell V, Leilan IIIc (Operation 1, Stratum 19),
Dynastic date for Metallic Ware, a pottery type Mohammed Arab, and Billa 6 (33), cylinder seals
characteristic of the Chuera occupations, data from and seal impressions with geometric motifs (zigzags
the Habur triangle and the Middle Euphrates now or circles with hatched borders, triangles, rosettes)
indicate that this variety of pottery persisted well comparable to Jemdet Nasr (Protoliterate d) examp
into the last centuries of the third millennium (29). les from the Diyala (34) have been recovered, but
Moortgat noted the appearance of Ninevite V incis other Nineveh seals and impressions are similar to
ed sherds in association with Metallic Ware at Tell middle and late Early Dynastic specimens from the
Ailun as well as in strata below without Metallic South (35). The presence of Jemdet Nasr seals in
Ware (30); again, the incised pottery available for relatively late Ninevite V contexts need not imply a
examination from Ailun corresponds to Leilan IIIc, Jemdet Nasr date for such contexts; in the Diyala,
from late in the Ninevite V period. Of course, the for example, 121 of a total of 352 Jemdet Nasr style
few incised sherds associated with Metallic Ware seals were recovered from Early Dynastic levels (36).
might well have been residual from earlier strata and Radiocarbon determinations for the period are not in their original contexts. available from Tell Leilan and Telul-eth-Thalathat
There are no published examples of Leilan lia Tell V (Table V). At Tell Leilan, the eight reliable
type zigzag incision without hatching, but sherds dates from period III delimit a duration of as much
with such decoration were observed by the writer in as a millennium, ca. 3500-2500 B.C., an unexpectedl
the collections from the Tell Brak and Chagar Bazar y long lifespan. The single date from Period IV,
excavations, regrettably from uncertain contexts. centered in the thirty-sixth century, provides a termi
Two or three such sherds were also collected by the nus post quern for Period III. The four dates from
Yale University Tell Leilan Project team from the Stratum 20, early in IIIc, converge on the twenty-
surface of Tell Hamoukar, a ninety hectare site in seventh century B.C. after calibration (37); therefore,
the eastern Habur triangle with what appears to be the beginning of sub-period IIIc can be allocated to
considerable third millennium occupation. the twenty-seventh century, and the remaining three
strata of the sub-period presumably would extend The chronological relationship of the Ninevite V
Period III well into the twenty-sixth century if not painted pottery vis-a-vis the incised is enigmatic at
later (38). The two dates from Telul-eth-Thalathat present. In the Tigris vicinity, at Tell Billa and Tell
Tell V are centered around 2900 and 2600 B.C. after Mohammed Arab, painted Ninevite V is concentra
calibration, affirming the early third millennium ted in the earlier part of the period, with incised
date of at least part of the period (39). pottery present to some degree alongside the painted
and then emerging on its own after the painted In sum, the relative chronological and radiocar
disappears. At Tell Leilan, however, incised Ninev bon evidence suggests a later fourth to middle third
ite V is always more common than painted, and millennium lifespan for the Ninevite V period, much
painted Ninevite V persists until at least the begin longer than Mallowan's estimate. Post-dating the
ning of IIIc. The continued use of painted pottery is Late Uruk period and preceding the Sargonic,
effectively demonstrated by the discovery of a cache Ninevite V must be contemporary with Jemdet Nasr,
of thirty-two incised, plain and painted complete Early Dynastic I-II, and probably the beginning of
vessels in a pit associated with Operation 1, StraIII in southern Mesopotamia (Ta
tum 19, early in sub-period IIIc (fig. 1 and 2). ble VI). Synchronization of north and south Meso
Similarly, painted and incised Ninevite V pottery are potamia in this period must remain tentative, howev
attested in the same contexts at Telul-eth-Thalathat er, since there are no specific ceramic correspon
Tell V(31). These discrepancies may perhaps be dences between the two areas.
ascribed to regional variation; while painted Ninev
ite V predominated in the early part of the period
in the Tigris area and then declined in use, it was (33) MALLOWAN, 1933 PI. LXV 21-36, PI. LXVI 3-26;
FUKAI et ai, 1974 5 1-2, PI. LVI 1 1 17-20; KILLICK, 1983. A clay only a small part of the western assemblages yet seal impression with a quatrefoil motif from Billa 6 recorded in continued for a longer time span. Regional differen the Billa object register (no. 494) and a terra cotta cylinder with tiation in the distribution of painted Ninevite V a pattern of interwoven curvilinear hatched bands from Billa 6
pottery has already been recognized : surveyed sites stored in the University Museum, Philadelphia (no. 32-20-518)
parallel Diyala geometric Jemdet Nasr examples. with painted Ninevite V sherds in northern Iraq were (34) FRANKFORT, 1955 nos 85-142. observed to cluster to the east in the Mosul and Erbil (35) MALLOWAN, 1933 PI. LXV 18, PI. LXVI 1; MALLOprovinces and in the area east of Jebel Sinjar (32). WAN, 1970 301; COLLON and READE, 1983 38-41.
(36)1955 11, Table I.
(37) The four samples were collected from a thick deposit of
(28) SCHWARTZ, n.d. carbonized seeds on the Stratum 20 surface, and two samples each
(29) J. OATES, 1982; SCHWARTZ, 1982, n.d. were sent to two different laboratories. The returned dates were
(30) MOORTGAT, 1957 23-4. Schnitt la, II. very close to each other.
(31) FUKAI et ai, 1974. (38) WEISS, 1983 46.
(32) ABU AL-SOOF, 1972 8; LLOYD, 1938 126. (39) FUKAI et al, 1974 60.
58 :
Radiocarbon Dates.
Site: Context: Radiocarbon Age: Calibrated Range: (Sub-) Material: Number
Period (bp) (5568 (ВС) (95% confidence)
(Klein et. al. 1982) half-life)
Leilan Operation 1, IIIc 4980+80 3935-3565 wood N-3896
Stratum 19
Le i lan 1, IIIc 2870+130 1410-790 grain UM-3098
Stratum 19
Leilan Operation 1, IIIc 3970+85 2865-2190 grain N-3897
Stratum 20
Leilan 1, IIIc 4070+70 2885-2415 grain N-3898 Stratum 20
Leilan Operation 1, IIIc 4060+60 2880-2410 grain UM-3099 Stratum 20
UM- 17 7 7 Leilan 1, IIIc 4090+70 2895-2420 grain
Stratum 20
Leilan Operation 1, Illb 4210+85 3150-2555 grain N-3899
Stratum 34
Leilan 1, Illb 4890+70 3875-3395 grain UM-1814
Stratum 34
Leilan Operation 1, Ilia 4625+85 3655-3060 wood, UM-1815 Stratum 35 grain
Leilan 1, Ilia 4735+110 3785-3200 UM-1813
Stratum 38
Leilan Operation 1, IV 4705+85 3775-3170 UM-1812 grain Stratum 44
Telul- 4200+90* 3145-2550 grain TK-25 granary eth-Thal.
Tell V
Telul- 4020+70* 2860-2395 arain TK-127 granary eth-Thal .
Tell V
*Fukai et al. 1974: 60
Proposed Relative Chronology.
VI 2000 J Ur III VII 5 VI lib 2 Agade Sargonic VIII 3 Late I lia ED III IX ED III 2500 6 IIIc 4 upper Nin. H ST V V ED II VII
levels Illb Tell V TW, 7 5 ED I lower
! 3000 ST r* Jemdet Ilia Nasr
IV A Late IV F 3500 Uruk
59 :
Ceramic parallels between Chagar Bazar and ties. We have already remarked the tendency for
assemblages to the west and north augment and sites with painted Ninevite V pottery to cluster in the
corroborate our relative chronology. Two cyma-recta area east of Jebel Sinjar and in Assyria. Occurrences
bowls of the characteristic highly-fired greenish clay in excavated and surveyed sites are relatively rare to
common in Amuq H (40) are associated with Nine- the west : at Tell Brak and Tell Barri, where incised
vite V incised pottery in Chagar Bazar 5 (41). Ninevite V sherds have been retrieved in some
Further, handmade painted vessels from Chagar numbers in excavation, painted sherds are conspi
Bazar 5 and 4 (42) resemble the third millennium cuous in their absence. Similarly, painted ware is
handmade painted pottery from sites in the Upper relatively uncommon in the Leilan Period III s
Euphrates Keban and Karababa regions (43). The equence and always forms a much smaller percentage
Karababa painted pottery is contemporary with of the assemblage of a given stratum than incised
Amuq I-J related Plain Simple Ware, but at Gritille ware. At Chagar Bazar, the two complete Ninevite V
it is also found in a slightly earlier context, in painted vessels from level 4 were of a clay unlike
association with Amuq H type cyma-recta bowls. The that of the rest of the assemblage, prompting
Amuq H link supports an early third millennium Mallowan to suggest that they were imports from the
date for Chagar Bazar 5, since Amuq G has Tigris region (50).
Uruk/Jemdet Nasr characteristics (reserve slip, nose The existence of a contemporaneous assemblage
lugs, beveled rim bowls) and Amuq I is dated to the within the Ninevite V heartland at Tepe Gawra with middle third millennium, contemporary with Mar- almost no examples of incised or painted Ninevite V
dikh IIB1. pottery presents a further complication. Differences
between the material culture of Gawra and other
nearby sites in this and previous periods may indi
cate that Gawra belonged to a different economic or SPATIAL DISTRIBUTION political sphere than did the rest of the Assyrian
plain in the fourth and third millennia.
The evidence available at present tends to support The Upper Habur (44), Sinjar-Tell Afar (45), and
a theory of local evolution of Ninevite V pottery and Assyrian plains (Mosul-Erbil-Kirkuk) (46) are the
not a foreign origin (51). Ceramic traits characteristareas of densest concentration of sites with Nine-
ic of the Ninevite V period can already be identified vite V pottery; settlements are also reported to the
in the preceding Uruk-related assemblages, attesting east in the Zagros foothills of Iraqi Kurdistan (47).
to a continuity of material culture. At Leilan, Rare examples have appeared at Mari (48), to the
occasional examples of the small buff fine ware cups south of the core area, and at Chuera, to the
with bead rims and pointed bases typical of Pewest (49).
riod III appear in the Period IV assemblage as do The spatial distribution of Ninevite V pottery crescent-lugged rim sherds from handmade hole- within its core area displays some notable peculari- mouth vessels, coarse discs, and sherds with finger
nail impressions, and fine wheelmade "proto-Nine-
vite V" cups with bead rims were excavated in Uruk (40) BRAIDWOOD and BRAIDWOOD, 1960 352.
(41) MALLOWAN, 1936 fig. 10, 16, 17. levels at Qalinj Agha I-III (52). There is no new
(42)1936 fig. 19, 5-8; MALLOWAN, 1937 evidence in favor of an Iranian genesis for painted fig. 25, 6, 7, 9. Ninevite V (53), and the absence of similar pottery in (43) KOSA Y 1976 PI. 47; KELLY-BUCCELLATI, 1978 PI. the Iranian regions adjacent to northern Mesopota128-9. SCHWARTZ, 1984. See also the lozenge-shaped animal
motif on a Chagar Bazar 5 painted vessel (MALLOWAN, 1936 mia renders the probability of Iranian origins unli
fig. 19, 7), found on painted vessels and in relief on dark kely (54). burnished ware in Keban Early Bronze contexts and at Geoy К
(ERTEM, 1974 PI. 62, 3; ESIN, 1974 PI. 103, 3-4; KOSA Y 1976
PI. 47, 82; HAUPTMANN, 1976 PI. 51, 1; BURTON-BROWN,
1981/2; D. OATES, 1982a, 1982b. The southernmost recorded
Ninevite V site on the Habur is Tell Ga'bi West, some ten
kilometers downstream from Hasake, with a Leilan IIIc incised Research on the rise of urban civilization in
sherd reported from the site surface (KUHNE, 1979 Abb. 15). northern Mesopotamia is only recently gaining (45) LLOYD, 1938; READE, 1968 237, n. 6; FUKAI et ai, momentum (55), attention having been previously 1974. For Eski Mosul see KILLICK, 1983.
(46) SPEISER, 1933; MALLOWAN, 1933; EL AMIN and
MALLOWAN, 1950; SPEISER, 1935. (50) MALLOWAN, 1937 149, fig. 25, 1, 3. (47) MALLOWAN, 1964 148; ABU AL-SOOF, 1964; AL- (51) Cf. also ABU AL-SOOF, 1968 75-76.
TIKRITI, 1960; BRAIDWOOD and HOWE, 1960 58. (52) ABU AL-SOOF, 1969. (48) PARROT, 1954 165, fig. 7. (53)1964 147. (49) Tall-necked pedestal-based jars from Arslantepe VIB (54) The painted sherds from Dinkha and Gird-i Hasan Ali which are compared to Ninevite V examples (PALMIERI, 1981) identified as Ninevite V by MALLOWAN (1964) are most likely have more convincing parallels at Tepecik and Aliçar Hôyiik Habur ware (HAMLIN 1971; MUHLY, 1973 460, n. 725).
(ESIN, 1976 116). (55) WEISS, 1983, 1984.
60 :
focused on the southern alluvium. Examination of lism in the area, of which the Naram-Sin fortress at
developmental trends in the north has been hamper Tell Brak now stands as the most graphic arti
ed by the lack of detailed surface survey data such fact (64).
as exist for southern Mesopotamia, but the situation If the process of urbanization was only beginning
is now rapidly improving (56). The available ev to "take off in Late Uruk times but was unambi
idence indicates that the Ninevite V period occupied guously present in the late pre-Sargonic era, it
a crucial transitional stage in the development of follows that the intervening Ninevite V period was
urban society in the north. Due to circumstances of the setting for significant changes leading towards
recovery, however, our knowledge of this period is the establishment of stratified urban society.
modest indeed in comparison with the periods that Weiss (65) has posited that this process was inextri
came before and after it. Therefore, a consideration cably bound up with and was perhaps a result of the
of socio-cultural developments in Ninevite V times harnessing of the productive power of the rainfed
must be undertaken with reference to earlier and agriculture of the Habur, Sinjar, and Assyrian plains.
later periods. Sites with Ninevite V pottery are, in fact, almost
The period preceding Ninevite V in northern exclusively distributed in the dry farming zones.
Mesopotamia is largely understood in terms of the These areas, endowed with good soils, free of
relationship between the north and the south. Sou salinity problems, and receiving 200-400 mm annual
thern Mesopotamian "colonies" were established rainfall (66), undoubtedly functioned as northern
Mesopotamian "breadbaskets"; in the Upper Habur, along river routes in northern Mesopotamia in Late
Uruk times (57), and sites such as Tell Brak posses for example, over 500 ancient mounded settlements
sed a rich material culture displaying numerous have been noted by unsystematic surface survey
within the area of 160 square kilometers (67). similarities to that of the south (58). At the same
time, settlements with a material culture only If urban life was beginning to develop in Ninev
marginally influenced by southern prototypes are ite V times, where were the urban centers of the
also attested (Gawra XIA-VIIIB, Leilan IV, Ham- period ? Joan Oates (68) states that "it is clear that
man et-Turkman Late Chalcolithic) (59). The trend the most important northern cities were always, as
towards urbanization appears to have been in its they are now, Mosul-Nineveh, Kirkuk and Erbil."
infancy in this period; most of the attested sites are Nineveh, certainly, was occupied in the Ninevite V
relatively small and unfortified. Possible exceptions period and could well have attained urban status by
are Tell Brak, which may have consisted of a ring of this time. Tell Brak, some forty hectares in area,
small settlements coalescing into one center (60) and could have also been an urban site, although its size
Tell Hamoukar, a 90 hectare site in the eastern during this period remains unknown. For the Sinjar
Habur triangle with considerable Uruk surface sherd area, Reade (69) notes that Karatepe and Belyoz
scatter (61). were larger than any earlier settlements on the plain
It is clear that the urbanization of northern south of Tell Afar and could have been nascent
Mesopotamia was well underway in the period urban centers.
immediately subsequent to the Ninevite V era. In Survey data from a select group of areas permit
Leilan Ha, at the tail end of the V era in the following comments on settlement patterns in the
ceramic terms or just afterward, the settlement at Ninevite V period. In the region south of Tell Afar,
Tell Leilan expanded from a town no larger than 1 5 V pottery was concentrated in the northern
hectares in area to a walled city of some 90 hecta part of the plain, in a smaller number of larger
res (62). Likewise, the large fortified urban centers at settlements relative to the site distribution of the
Tell Chuera, west of the Habur, and Tell Khoshi on previous period; in the following period, the sou
the Sinjar plain were established in this period (63). thern part of the plain was reoccupied (70). This
These cities may have been centers of the Human pattern is reminiscent of the growth of southern
kingdoms epigraphically attested in this region in Mesopotamian urban centers at the expense of their
the later third millennium; they probably were the hinterlands in roughly the same time period (71). A
targets of late Early Dynastic or Sargonic imperia- decrease in the number of sites in the Ninevite V
period was also reported for the Mosul area and for
the region east of Qamishli (72). On the other hand, (56) For existing survey reports see MALLOWAN, 1936,
1937; LLOYD, 1938; ABU AL-SOOF, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1975;
KÙHNE, 1979; MEIJER, 1979, 1984; FIELDEN, 1979, 1981;
WEISS, 1984.
(57) STROMMENGER, 1980; VAN DRIEL and VAN (64) HALLO, 1978; WEISS, in press.
DRIEL-MURRAY, 1979. (65) WEISS, 1983.
(58) MALLOWAN, 1947; D. OATES 1982b. (66) DAVIES, 1957; BRICHAMBAUT and WALLEN, 1963.
(67) DROWER and BOTTÉRO, 1971 330. (59) TOBLER, 1950; SPEISER, 1935; SCHWARTZ, 1982; VAN LOON, 1983. (68) J. OATES, 1967.
(60) FIELDEN, 1981. (69) READE, 1968 236.
(61) WEISS, 1983 44. (70)1968 236.
(62)1983. (71) ADAMS and NISSEN, 1972 19ff.
(63) The smaller site of Billa 5 (ca. 12 hectares) was also (72) KILLICK, 1983; ABU AL-SOOF, 1968; MEIJER, 1984 fortified at this point (SPEISER, 1931). 50.