Excavated at the "Columned Hall," Uruk, Mesopotamia
Clay, mud plaster
Lent by Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin (L.1995.48.2)
This mosaic is formed by small clay cones which, pointed end first, have been pressed tightly together into a wall coated with a thick layer of wet plaster. The flat ends of the cones are painted black, red, and white. Such mosaics originated in southern Mesopotamia and were used to decorate monumental mud-brick cult and palace architecture during the second half of the fourth millennium B.C. Some of the most impressive examples are found at Uruk but the technique of decoration has been found in many other cities such as Ur and Eridu as well as sites like Habuba Kabira in modern Syria.
The decorative patterns produced often formed lozenges, triangles, and straight and zigzag bands. Such designs were possibly based on patterns formed by wickerwork and on textiles. The dominant pattern in this mosaic fragment is a row of black triangles. Such work was not simply decorative. Sheathing mud-brick outer walls and pillars with mosaics made of harder materials helped to minimize weathering from wind and water.