Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 August 2014
The mounds of Jemdet Nasr, 100 km south of Baghdad, were subjected to two seasons of excavations in 1926–28. These campaigns yielded a tremendous assemblage of artefacts which have never received the full publication to which they are undoubtedly entitled. In order to rectify this shortcoming a programme of publishing all known items from the 1920s seasons is now well underway, with museum work completed on the Jemdet Nasr collections in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the Field Museum, Chicago. It is intended to publish the 1920s material as Volume 1 of the series Jemdet Nasr Excavations, which will continue with volumes concerning our own recent work at the site. Pending completion of study of Jemdet Nasr items in the Iraq Museum, Baghdad, it has been decided to present this preliminary survey as an indication of the wealth of material retrieved during those two seasons in 1926 and 1928, and in order to address questions that have arisen in the subsequent decades. The main issues of debate have been whether or not it is justifiable to speak of a Jemdet Nasr period, distinct from the Late Uruk and Early Dynastic periods, and a concern to specify items of material culture, particularly pottery, which may assist in the identification of such a period in both temporal and geographical terms. Recent and future excavations at the site, and elsewhere, are likely to provide some of the pointers, but it is perhaps too often the case that excavations of the early part of this century are dismissed as below modern standards and therefore not worthy of detailed study. It is hoped that this article can show the value of re-analysing old excavations from a contemporary viewpoint, particularly by drawing upon comparative material from a range of other excavated sites in order to place the Jemdet Nasr assemblage within a wider Mesopotamian context.