West Asian pottery collected by the Tokyo University
Iraq-Iran Archaeological Expedition

Yoshihiro Nishiaki
The University Museum,
The University of Tokyo

The recent volumes of the catalogues of the collection of the Department of West Asian Archaeology have featured the ancient pottery excavated by the Tokyo University Iraq-Iran Archaeological Expedition in north Iraq (Part 5) and southwest and northwest Iran (Parts 6 and 7, respectively). This volume (Part 9) presents a collection of the complete and nearly complete pottery, which was either purchased or surface-collected in Western Asia by the members of the expedition. The collection was gathered during a relatively short period between 1956 and 1965, when the expedition members had conducted extensive general surveys nearly all over the Middle East along with excavations in Iraq and Iran. The main aim of these surveys, headed by Professor Namio Egami, was to obtain as much scientific material and information as possible in order to develop the West Asian archaeology in Japan, which was then in its infancy. With the most generous courtesy of the host countries, the expedition-the first substantial Japanese archaeological expedition to the region-indeed successfully built up the largest West Asian archaeological collection in Japan, including the pottery materials that have been compiled in this volume.

The current pottery collection consists of five major groups. The largest one is derived from various areas and sites in Iran, apparently purchased in Tehran between 1956 and 1965. It mainly consists of material from the Bronze to the Iron Age, as well as a smaller amount of material from the earlier and the later ages. The second group represents Iron Age materials that were collected from the Dailaman district in northern Iran. This region encompasses the research field where the expedition conducted excavations and surveys of Iron Age graveyards in 1960 and 1964. The third group of the present collection also includes specimens obtained during the field surveys of 1956, 1959 and 1964 in the Marv Dasht plain, in southwest Iran. The fourth group consists of a small amount of ancient pottery from the Mesopotamian region, obtained either from the markets in Beirut or from the 1957 and 1965 seasons’ surface surveys in Iraq and Syria. Finally, the materials without proper provenance information comprise the rest of the present collection. These pottery specimens, many of which can be dated through typological studies ( Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 ), serve one of the rare reference collections for West Asian archaeology in Japan, as well as a valuable source for future exhibitions, education, and research.