The Museum’s bevel-rimmed bowls on display at Unapologetic Dinnerware, an exhibit curated by the International Museum of Dinnerware Design. Photo by Lauren Fuka.

The term “disposable dinnerware” brings to mind plastic sporks that land in the trash after one use. But at Unapologetic Dinnerware: A Brief History of Disposable Dinnerware, a new exhibit at Concordia University curated by the International Museum of Dinnerware Design, it also means 5,000-year-old ceramic bowls.

The two Mesopotamian bevel-rimmed bowls in the exhibit are on loan from the UMMAA’s Near Eastern archaeology collection. As the display notes explain, this type of bowl is the single most common ceramic vessel found from the Middle and Late Uruk periods (from 3800 to 3100 BC) in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq and parts of Syria, Turkey, and Iran). Because the bowls were so numerous, archaeologists believe that they were made to be discarded, possibly after a single use—that is, disposable. It’s not clear what that use was. Archaeologists have speculated on the function of the bowls since the early twentieth century. People might have used them for distributing dry grain or food rations, for making yogurt, for baking bread, or as offerings to temple priests.

Unapologetic Dinnerware runs August 28 through October 12, 2018. Opening reception and gallery talk is Friday, September 7, 7–9 p.m.

See more about the exhibit and the International Museum of Dinnerware Design here.

Read more about the Museum's bevel-rimmed bowls here. See another example of disposable dinnerware at the Museum: yogurt cups from Iran.  

Two bevel-rimmed bowls from the UMMAA’s collections, 4th millennium BC, Iran. Photo by Lauren Fuka.