These ceramic fragments, nearly 8000 years old, come from the site of Tell Arpachiyah, which is near modern Mosul in northern Iraq. The sherds date to the Halaf (c. 5900–5300 BC), a culture of farmers and herders that flourished across what is now Syria, Turkey, and northern Iraq. The potters who lived in this extensive region are known for their distinctive style of elaborately painted ceramic vessels.
Archaeologist Robert Braidwood donated the fragments to the Museum in 1936. Braidwood (1907–2003) earned his undergraduate degree and master’s degree (in architecture) at the University of Michigan before pursuing a distinguished career in Near Eastern archaeology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. In the early 1930s, he was a field assistant in the Oriental Institute’s Syrian Expedition. Braidwood and his doctoral advisor Henri Frankfort visited the ongoing excavations at Tell Arpachiyah, where he collected these sherds.
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.