Prehistoric pottery from Telul eth-Thalathat, Iraq

Yoshihiro Nishiaki
The University Museum
The University of Tokyo

Telul eth-Thalathat represents a group of archaeological mounds situated about 50 km west of Mosul, North Iraq (Figs. 1 and 2). Three of the mounds, designated Thalathat I, II and V respectively, were extensively excavated in the 1950s to the 70s by the Tokyo University Iraq-Iran Archaeological Expedition. The excavations produced a large amount of archaeological materials, most of which from the 1956, 1957, 1964 and 1965 seasons are currently stored at the University Museum. This catalogue documents a selection of complete and nearly complete pottery from the museum collection.

The main occupation levels of Thalathat mounds are assigned to the 7th to the 2nd millennium BC as shown in Fig. 3. Thalathat II was mainly occupied in the Sotto-Umm Dabaghiyah to the Gawra periods with an apparent break in the Halaf period. Pottery from the surface deposits and intrusive burial pits, however, indicate later occupations as well. The time span covered by Thalathat V, a nearby low mound, is much more limited. All the defined levels belonged to the Ninevite 5 period, although a small amount of earlier pottery was also collected from the underlying deposits that were not fully explored. Thalathat I, the largest mound rising over 20 m from the surrounding surface, was excavated only in an restricted area. The pottery typology places its top levels to the Akkad to the Old Assyrian periods, but earlier remains should certainly exist underneath.

Plates and descriptive data of the pottery in this catalogue are presented according to mounds (Thalathat II, V to I), and by chronologically preceding ones first within each group. The descriptive data incorporates unpublished information of pottery provenances. An index by specimen numbers will be found at the end of the present volume.

The publications referred to in this catalogue are abbreviated as follows:

"Thalathat, Vol. I," for Telul eth-Thalathat, Vol. I, The Excavations of Tell II, 1956-1957, edited by N. Egami, 1959, The Institute of Oriental Culture, The University of Tokyo.

"Thalathat, Vol. II," for Telul eth-Thalathat, Vol. II, The Excavations of Tell II, The Third Season (1964), edited by S. Fukai, K. Horiuchi and T. Matsutani, 1970, The Institute of Oriental Culture, The University of Tokyo.

"Thalathat, Vol. III," for Telul eth-Thalathat, Vol. III, The Excavations of Tell V, The Fourth Season (1965), edited by S. Fukai, K. Horiuchi and T. Matsutani, 1974, The Institute of Oriental Culture, The University of Tokyo.

Description of the 1965 season's investigation at Thalathat I has not been published as a separate volume; a brief reference is available in a preliminary report of the 1976 excavations (Fukai, S. and T. Matsutani, Excavations at Telul eth-Thalathat, 1976, Sumer 33/1: 48-64, 1977).