Cooking pot with lugs - ROM2007_9119_1

ROM2007_9119_1

Cooking pot with lugs

Medium:Ceramic (earthenware)
Geography: Excavated at Seh Gabi, western Iran
Date: c. 5000-3000 BC
Period: Chalcolithic Period
Dimensions:
24.3 x 27 cm
Object number: 973.455.7
On view
Gallery Location:Wirth Gallery of the Middle East
DescriptionCooking pots are often poorly regarded even by archaeologists, as they tend not to be the aesthetically most interesting of the ceramic finds in the archaeological record, and also because the dictates of their use rather imposes a form that has changed very little through millennia. A cooking pot, however, has a very demanding function. Being repeatedly heated up from the bottom with food inside affects the structure of the vessel. This is why they tend to have round bottoms, to allow the heat gradient to spread evenly through the vessel; and they will tend to have handles which are very simple, such as the "lugs" on this vessel. Cooking pots tend to also be poorly preserved in the archaeological record. Typically they are used until the repeated heating destroys their structure - for instance this example has no bottom left at all, although it is otherwise an entire pot. Furthermore, cooking pots are less typical grave-offerings, compared to storage and serving vessels, presumably because it was thought, in the case of those cultures where you needed to take your property with you into the afterlife, that you would not be responsible for your own cooking in the afterlife. One might assume that for the people whose grave-goods fill museum collections, cooking was actually someone else's responsibility in life anyway. Despite their low regard, cooking pots are very interesting. Microscopic examination of their fabric indicates that the demands of their function meant that the clay paste would have to be tempered with specific minerals that allowed repeated re-heating. The properties of the clay itself would also be important, and studies to determine the place of production of pottery often show that although storage vessels and even finetablewares may be made locally, the cooking pots were often made in distant centres and were brought to their place of use through long-distance trade or exchange. So for the people that used them, cooking pots were actually very important indeed.
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