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A Contribution to Central-Anatolian Prehistoric Ceramics

Author(s): Hamit Z. Koşay

Source: Artibus Asiae, Vol. 10, No. 1 (1947), pp. 34-42
Published by: Artibus Asiae Publishers
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ral-Anatolian potteries and their types, in so far as they result from the funds of Alaca-
Hibyiik and Pazarh.
We owe it to the excavation of Alacahbiyiik,ordered by the Turkish Historical Society
(Tiirk Tarih Kurumu), if we dispose now of considerable proof about the material
civilization of the Chalcolithic period (4000 B. C.), of the Copper-Age (from about 3000
B.C.), the Hittite (2000-o20o B.C.) and the Phrygian period (1200oo-600 B.C.). This material
is constituted mostly of pottery. As a matter of fact the objects made of stuff, leather and
wood have all been lost and the metal tools (with the exception of those of gold)
heavily destroyed, while the potteries have preserved the freshness of the time of their
That's why pottery turns out to be the main point of reference for the dating of
periods in which there are not yet written documents in existence or scarcely available.
The lack of written monuments may be compensated partially by the seals with their
signs and pictures.
A great part of the pottery has been found in the living-rooms and kitchens, exactly
where they had been left at the outburst of some sudden catastrophe, as earth-quakes,
fires, a. s. o.; so we find them in situ, and catastrophes,which have happened 3000 or 4000
years ago come to be a bargain for science. We found, for instance, granaries,of which
the corn roasted by the fire, had been buried under the crushing walls. Another great
part of pottery had been thrown away by the inhabitants,as soon as the tools were
spoilt. The funds of the layers of Alaca mentioned above show great diversities, as far
as material, way of fabrication, form and ornaments are concerned. We see that 950/o
fragments are rough ware, always hand-made. Only 5?/oare embellished
of the chalcolithic
with broken parallel or diagonal lines, which have been scratched in. They got a coating


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P1. I Chalcolithicpottery of Alaca-H6yUik:a) Handle of vessel b) a jug

and a polish before the branding. This pottery shows black red or yellow hues, due to
the fact of the development of smoke during the fire made for the baking. The clay
is mixed with sand or straw. However, among the vessels which are not intended for
dayly use, some very smart and thin-walled pieces are found, of which the clay had
undergone a severe washing and a careful preparation. Some pieces were particularly
decorated, by cutting out their coating or laying on it some red or white colour. The
handles are still primitive, nearly without exception and mostly they are just put on the
vessel or consist in one or two buttons merely (see pl. Ia). The walls of the vessels
grow thinner towards the profile. Typical for this period are the cups in form of fruit-
carriers, bowls and jugs (pl. Ib.). Although the potters of the Chalcolithic Age are bound
to tradition, we still feel, that they strove to find new forms.
In the Copper-Age the primitivity of the Calcolithic period has disappeared.The heritage
is developed, new forms found and strange influences worked up.
Besides a few exceptions, pottery is single-coloured again. The potter's wheel is not
employed yet. But we immediately become aware of the richness of moulds and their
elegance. The coloured coating has an important r61lein this period. Besides the rough
kitchen-earthenware,food and drink utensils have developed according to a higher standard
of life.
The lined ornament has grown into rilled patterns adorned with reliefs. When it is used
still, the lines are filled with a white mass in order to reinforce the esthetical impression
The black, red, light-brown or spotted coatings are very carefully polished. In the Copper-
Age of Alacahbiyiikvessels painted in many colours are extraordinarilyrare. It catches our
eye, that the metal vessels of this period (made of gold, silver, copper and bronze)
resemble the pottery in their form. Hence we must suppose, that these metal vessels
have been made on the spot. A great part of the big jugs is employed for the burial
of the dead (in squatting position) see pl. 2.
A new civilization, generally called "Hittite" is born by migrations and shifts about
2000 B. C. The heritage of new civilization still subsists in it, but the old currents of
civilization have impressed their own seal on it. Single-coloured pottery is predominee-

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P1.2 Pottery of the Copper-Ageof Alaca-Hoyiik: a) fragments b) a jug with spout

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PI.3 Hittitepotteryof Alaca-H6yiik:a) a Hittitekitchen b) a ritualpot

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P1.+ a) a bathingbasinfrom the (Hittite) layer Mliaof Alaca-Hoyiik b) the Hittite bath
ring again. But we also find pieces bearing red and brown lines and ribbons on a white
background. They are made with the potter's wheel. After the white or red coating was
laid on, the vessels were carefully polished still before their baking, for eliminating the
porosity of the material. On some pieces the coating is not thick at all, but the piece
has been dipped for a short time into the mass, entirely or partially.*
As far as form is considered, we find in the Hittite period very big pails, little pails,
cups with three-cornered handles, cups without handles and with round bottom, buckets,
jugs with handles overpassing the border, vessels with twisted handles, various, very smart
jugs with a round base (see pl. 3b), cosmetic boxes and many more. The beak-mouthed
jugs are very characteristic for this period, and many of them, as we know, were
employed for ritual services.
Also quadrangularbathing basins with a seat in them, were found, and it undoubtedly
proves that the Hittites loved cleanliness. These basins are the prototypes of our bath
of nowadays (pl.4).
In a Hittite kitchen vessels in form of grapes are found, and also pails with three legs
formed as the feet of animals,drinking cups in form of lions' or bulls' heads, pots with
the bottom of a sieve. A rare piece is constituted by a Hittite pot fastened to the
hearth. I cannot give here further details, this being an article whose shortness would
be impaired by comparisons with other regions, since such comparisons would be very
necessary. I would like only to point out that the forms of the ceramics of central
Anatolia have exercised their influence till Troya and the Greek isles and that on
their turn, have been influenced by these regions.
Among the Hittite pots we find some, shaped in a way which appears very strange
to our eyes; many vessels, f. i. have a pointed bottom. We understand these shapes
better, as soon as we get some knowledge about the life of that time. Such vessels were
buried into the ground of the kitchen or cellar and round ring-shaped supports served
for the maintainanceof the equilibrium;such supports of clay have been found. Generally
we are aware of a mass-production having started in Hittite time, and we learn it by
In an ethnographical research which will be issued before long, I will show that this technique is employ-
ed still to-day in modern Anatolian ceramics.

• .....i

i. .. • . ..

P1.5 Phrygianpotteryof Pazarlh:a) Phrygian

pot b) a brickwith the representation
of an animal-fight
comparing the later pieces with those of the ancient Hittite period, which are made
more carefully and represent a greater value from an artistic point of view. It will be
the task of a research-work still to come for deciding whether this is due only to a
local changement or constitutes a judgement of a general character.
In the Phrygian time the potteries have many colours and show red or brown lined
patterns on a faint-white background. These, together with single-coloured black or red
pieces are domineering. It becomes clear, that a new style has taken the place of Hittite
art, but we are bound to say that this style is not new in an absolute sense but based
on the old traditions. The many-coloured pottery with its geometric ornaments seems
to be a renaissance of the ancient fashion of the Near East, while the single-coloured
ceramics remember the native traditions of ancient Anatolia.
That is the time in which the influence of the metal technique upon pottery becomes
noticeable; the artist tries to give to the ceramics the audacious forms he could give to
the metal.
The ornaments are first purely geometrical, later on we come across stylised representations
of men, animals and plants (see pl. a).

a) About the excavations of Alaca-Hoyuiikcompare above all: H. Z. Ko?ay: Excavations in Alaca-H6ytik
1936 (Turkish and German) issued by the Turkish Commission of History, Series V, Number 2 a; (Ankara
1944); the report about the excavations in the years 1937-1939 is in print (Turkish and German);
Remzi O. Arik supplied us with the first report about the excavations in 1935. - About the excavations of
Pazarl cf. H. Z. Ko?ay: Les Fouilles de Pazarll (Istanbul 1938) and H. Z. Kosay in the review "Belleten
Nr. 9, p. 15-25 (1939); furthermore: Ekrem Akurgal: Pazarh'da 9ikan esserler uizerindeyeni ara?tirmalar
(Observations to the architectonic reliefs of Terracotta in Pazarli, Phrygia) in the review "Belleten" Nr. 25,
p. 1-43 (Turkish and German) (I942). (The translator).


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