Mother of pearl inlay. Middle to Late Uruk period, 4th millennium BC. Tepe Farukhabad, southwestern Iran. Near Eastern Archaeology, UMMA Expedition. UMMAA 60803.

This small shell artifact was recovered in Museum curator Henry Wright’s excavations at Tepe Farukhabad, a town that flourished in the fourth and third millennium BC on Iran’s Deh Luran Plain. Made on marine shell imported from the Persian Gulf, this small trapezoidal piece was cut, polished, and incised with decorative grooves. In form it resembles depictions of skirts worn by Mesopotamian men, known from sculptures and seals. It was likely part of a decorative panel inlaid into a wooden panel or box. Its presence in the small town of Farukhabad, which was on the margins of the Mesopotamian Plain, provides evidence for the community’s deep economic and cultural connections to the dramatic changes transforming the Middle East during the period of state formation.

Back to Day 117.

In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.