Skip to main content

Choga Mami, 1967–68: A Preliminary Report

  • Joan Oates

The first season of excavations at Choga Mami began on December 2nd, 1967, and continued until February 26th, 1968. The work was sponsored by the British School of Archaeology and supported by generous grants from the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, and the American Philosophical Society. The staff consisted of Mr. David Oates (Field Director and architect), Miss Elizabeth Dowman (conservator and registrar), Miss Carolyn Prater (archaeologist), and Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jarman of the Early Agriculture Project, Cambridge University, in charge of faunal and floral material.1 During the first month we were assisted by Dr. and Mrs. Richard Ellis. We were also happy to welcome Dr. Nikolai Merbert and Dr. Nikolai Bader, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, as our guests for a short stay. Sayyid Hazim Nejeifi and Sayyid Ghassan Azzawi gave invaluable help as Representatives of the Directorate-General of Antiquities. We must also thank government officials in Mandali for their courteous assistance and the Directorate-General in Baghdad, in particular the Director-General, Dr. Faisal al-Wailly, and Professor Fuad Safar, Inspector-General of Excavations, for the close and friendly co-operation which they and their staff invariably extend to us.

Hide All

1 I must express my gratitude to Professor J. G. D. Clark and Dr. Eric Higgs who made possible this co-operation with Cambridge, where the final study of the field material is being carried out.

2 A 10 metre grid was established, letters running from west to east, numbers from north to south.

3 Including CM. 587, an incised jar, surface lightly burnished; CM. 386, a painted jar; a painted bowl and a second lightly burnished plain jar.

4 The pottery from this pit included some Samarra sherds but was predominantly E.D. I–II; several scarlet ware sherds and a number of spouted vessels were found. The pit, although almost certainly originally designed for storage purposes, had become a rubbish tip; its contents included the skeletons of several onagers.

5 C.M. 341, part of a painted pedestal bowl from this early level, is ornamented with an elaborate central medallion of cross-hatched Maltese crosses identical with that on a pedestal bowl found on a late Level II floor in Square N 11 (C.M. 312).

6 Cf. Iraq 28 (1966), Pl. XLIIIa–c.

7 ‘Phase’ is used here in the same sense as Level in the preceding section to distinguish levels of building. A different terminology is employed simply to insure that there will be no assumption of contemporaneity between levels in the two as yet unconnected areas.

8 C.M. 353, rim d. 27·5 cm. Two other large jars of this type were found; C.M. 354, rim d. 24·0 cm., with 14 scorpions and a complicated meander pattern on the shoulder, H 9, Phase 1; and C.M. 355, rim d. 28 cm., with an elaborate bevelled rib at the base of the neck and five scorpions, J 8, topsoil. All three jars were constructed with a pouring lip.

9 C.M. 17, extant ht. 4·2 cm. H 9, Phase 2, lower floor, room 57. C.M. 18 came from broken upper fill south-east of the H 9 house, and is no earlier than Phase 2.

10 C.M. 381 is a high-necked jar, ht. 57·7 cm., rim d. 22·5 cm., similar in shape to the painted jar in the same room. The neck and rim fragments of C.M. 381 were found collapsed inside the vessel.

11 Cf. UE IV, Pl. 22, U. 15399.

12 Two other finds from J 7 should be mentioned. C.M. 91, 3·5 × 1·6 cm., which is possibly the shoulder of an unpainted figurine elaborately ornamented with appliqué ‘coffee-bean’ discs, reminiscent of but more elaborate than the decoration on some of the later ‘Ubaid figurines from Ur. Cf. UE IV, Pl. 20, U. 15379, U. 15506. Two adjoining discs on the Choga Mami example, however, bear multiple incisions resembling fingers. From the northern ‘Late Samarra’ house. C.M. 93, 3·3 × 1·5 cm: a broken cylindrical, seal-like object, the only example of its kind. It is made of baked clay, ornamented with an incised herring-bone pattern. From disturbed upper fill, presumably of Transitional date.

13 We must remark, in parenthesis, that the remains of the walls of this building were heavily waterlogged, and we were unable after a long examination to identify more than apparent course-lines in the N–S wall shown here; but we have no doubts about the E–W wall that appears in section, for the characteristic alternation of lateral and longitudinal bricks, observed elsewhere on the site, was clearly visible.

14 Examples similar to Iraq 2 (1935), Fig. 29, 1 were recovered, together with four-lugged carinated jars with low ‘collar’ rims. A new type of 'Ubaid bowl with an incised pattern on the interior base recalls an unusual Bagum type. The Hajji Muhammad material included Pl. XXXII, 15–17. A large number of sickle-blades and other flint tools, ‘bent nails’, and pottery ‘wheels’ were found.

15 Cf. Iraq 28 (1966), Pls. XXXVIII–XLII.

16 Ibid., Pl. XL.

17 There are two exceptions: on Pl. XXIX, e, the left hand is depicted in a peculiarly awkward and perhaps modest pose; one unillustrated example from Level II, O 11 (C.M. 3), displays the left hand, fingers incised, resting immediately below the breasts. The right hand is missing but must have been attached to the body just below the left.

18 One 'Ubaid figurine fragment, a leg, was found at Choga Mami (C.M. 23, from the 'Ubaid well). It is made in the same fashion as the Samarra examples, i.e. with a finished interior surface, but is much more slender than the earlier variety and in general shape closely resembles the Ur type. C.M. 23 is unpainted, ornamented with a single groove across the hip, perhaps corresponding with the painted band to be seen on some of the Ur examples.

19 Iraq 28 (1966), 152, Pl. XLI, a, d.

20 A single unstratified fragment from Arpachiyah, Iraq 2 (1935), Fig. 45, 1, resembles the Choga Mami type.

21 Iraq 30 (1968), 58.

22 JNES 4 (1945), Pl. XVII, 2, 3; Wahida, G., Sumer 23 (1967), Fig. 9, 1. The Sawwan face also has ‘coffee-bean’ eyes. So far at Mandali we have found three fragments of high-necked jars ornamented with painted and appliqué human faces. One, from Serik, is illustrated in Iraq 30 (1968), Pl. II, c. The other two are from Choga Mami. One from Phase 4, H 8, is an extremely attractive fragment, the side of a face with a carefully modelled, painted, appliqué ear; on the other, the lower portion of what must have been a very high-necked jar, part of an appliqué hand with painted fingers is preserved, above which is apparently a painted necklace (from Level 8, Section, Plate XXIII). See also Plate XXIX, b. So far this jar type is unrepresented at Tell es-Sawwan; at Matarrah two unpainted fragments occurred (JNHS 11 (1952), fig. 6, 30, 31).

23 UE IV, Pl. 22, U. 15399.

24 Four complete specimens were found (C.M. 512, 513, 529, and 35). On the latter, one edge and two flat areas on the lower surface are very highly burnished as though the object had been used along these surfaces.

25 El-Wailly, F., Sumer 20 (1964), Fig. 2, front right.

Also Iraq 30 (1968), Pl. XII, 11-17 and p. 135, below. The two stratified stone ‘ladles’ from Choga Mami were found in and near the small ante-chamber in J 6 (C.M. 140 and C.M. 149, Level 8, Section, Plate XXIIÏ).

26 Braidwood, R. J., Prehistoric Men (1967), p. 119, second ground stone object.

27 Another exact parallel with Jarmo is C.M. 117, a highly polished long conical object with a rounded base. (H 9, Phase 2).

28 Iraq 2 (1935), Pl. Xa, and Fig. 52: 12; Tobler, Tepe Gawra II, Pl. XCV (e).

29 El-Wailly, F. and Al-Soof, B. Abu, Sumer 21 (1965), Fig. 79.

30 I must express my gratitude to Mr. Michael Jarman who catalogued this year's flint tools and to Miss Carolyn Prater who drew them.

31 After this study was completed, several more conical flint cores were found stratified in Samarra levels; 29 were picked up on the surface. None have so far been found at Tell cs-Sawwan, but this may simply reflect the quality of flint available at the two sites. See also Plate XXXIII, 2–3.

32 SAOC 31, 1960, ‘diagonal-ended bladelets‘, Pl. 18: A.

33 A tiny obsidian example came from Tamerkhan (see Iraq 30 (1968), 4, n. 8). A number of obsidian ‘side-blow flakes’ have been picked up at Umm edh-Dhiabba, the Hassuna-Samarra site west of Hatra. They have also been found on prehistoric sites in the neighbourhood of Tell al Rimah and Abu Marya.

34 See Iraq 30 (1968), 811.

35 Cf. JNES 4 (1945), fig. 18, 14. The Serik jar bears a painted design consisting of 4 horizontal panels of diagonals, concentric double line chevrons with rows of dots painted over the (double) diagonal lines, diagonals again and alternating solid triangles. This general type is known from Sawwan, and it may be noted that during the third season at that site, of 365 Level I sherds, 8 were painted-and-incised, and of 1,716 in Level II, 66 were of this type. (Wahida, G., Sumer 23 (1967), 174). At Matarrah, of 218 painted sherds. 6 were painted-and-incised (JNES I (1952), 16).

36 Cf. Iraq 30 (1968), Pl. VII.

37 Cf. Hassuna Level V, JNES 4 (1945), Fig. 15: 19.

38 C.M. 349, ht. 26·3 cm., rim d. 30·0 cm., is the only nearly complete example. It is ornamented with 3 large ibexes, separated by vertical geometric panels. A sample of the deposit inside this pot, which has the appearance of red juss, is now being analysed.

39 El-Wailly, F. and Al-Soof, B. Abu, Sumer 21 (1965), Fig. 61, 22. See also two pedestal base fragments from Serik, , Iraq 30 (1968), Pl. VIII, 1617.

40 Cf. Tulane, E., JNES 3 (1944), nos. 270, 271. Patterns reminiscent of Tulane 278 have also been found.

41 Two examples arc illustrated in Iraq 30 (1968), Pl. VIII, 7, 8.

42 Ibid., Pl. VIII, 1, 2, 6.

43 Ibid., Pl. XII, 10; note, however, the close resemblance to JNES 4 (1945), fig. 2, 11 (Hassuna Level VI).

44 Cf. the surface sherds illustrated in Iraq 30 (1968), Pl. XII, 1117. Of the 15 examples catalogued this season only one was nearly complete: C.M. 338. Ht. 4·1 cm., total length 20·2 cm., length of handle 14·4 cm., d. of bowl 4·0 cm. From H 9, Lower Phase 2, room 56.

45 See Iraq 30 (1968), Pl. XII, 13. Cf. UE IV, Pl. 15: U. 18297, from the packing of the ziggurat terrace where large numbers of Al 'Ubaid 1–2 sherds were found.

46 Iraq 30 (1968), Pl. IV; Pl. VI, 1; Pl. XII, 1–10. Many of the sherds illustrated on Pl. VII should also be attributed to this group.

47 Especially Levels XVIII–XVI; a broken hatched triangle from Eridu Level XVII is illustrated in Iraq 22 (1960), Pl. V, 21. The closest parallel for the toothlike pattern on Iraq 30 (1968), Pl. VI, 1, is Eridu Level XVI (cf. Iraq 22 (1960), Pl. V, 35, 36).

48 Iraq 30 (1968), 9. See Iranica Antiqua 2, pl. VII, 1.

49 Iraq 22 (1960), 4243.

50 See also Iraq 30 (1968), Pl. IX. New surface material from Choga Mami includes sherds identical with Ziegler, , Die Keramik von der Qal'a des Haǧǧi Mohammed, 1953, Taf. 4, d and Taf. 8, 5, and with Iraq 22 (1960), Pl. V, 19. A common Transitional small jar rim, a wide flaring type with solid triangles on the upper surface, is almost exactly paralleled in Eridu Level XV; at Choga Mami this type clearly develops from one found in Samarra levels.

51 All rim sherds identical with Ziegler, op. cit., Taf. 14.

52 Iraq 30 (1968), Pl. IX, 27.

53 Tobler, , Tepe Gawra II, Pl. CXVI, 59; also nos. 61–62.

54 Nineteen genuine Halaf sherds of this type were found. One is ornamented with white painted crosses comparable with Iraq 2 (1935), frontispiece. Another is very close to Iraq 2 (1935), Pl. XVIII, but the wavy line pattern, the most common Halaf design element at Choga Mami, occurs on the exterior as well. Cf. also the design on fig. 76, 1. An asterisk pattern similar to Fig. 67, 1 occurs, as does an open checkerboard with plain diagonal crosses; on one example the intervening spaces are filled in with white paint. One ring-based bowl occurs, a type not found at Arpachiyah before TT 7–8. At Choga Mami interior bowl rims among the non-Halafian well material are decorated with a common Halaf pattern, a plain horizontal band below which runs a scalloped or wavy line (cf. Iraq 2 (1935), fig. 62).

55 I am very much indebted to Professor Frank Hole who has very kindly sent mc copies of drawings of the Ali Kosh and Tepe Sabz pottery. Unfortunately his latest publication is not yet available to me in Baghdad and I am unable to give a reference for the Mandali parallel, but it is a very striking one.

56 The paint on the N 11 example is orange red, lightly burnished, on a pink surface; the other sherd is brown on buff. No other examples of this type have been found.

57 Bone material of comparable date from Tell es-Sawwan is published in Flannery, and Wheeler, , Sumer 23 (1967).

58 There is, of course, the possibility that the whole Samarra sequence at Mandali represents a local development closely related to the Tigris valley materials but diverging from them at an earlier stage. But the very close parallels between Matarrah and Choga Mami militate against this view.

59 See Iraq 22 (1960), 4243.

60 Helbaek, H., SAOC 31, 114.Guest, E. and Al-Rawi, A., Flora of Iraq I. 93.

61 Wc should note that the modem irrigation ditch shown on the section is at an artificially high level relative to the modern plain surface since it serves a patch of land west of the site which is otherwise cut off by erosion gullies.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0021-0889
  • EISSN: 2053-4744
  • URL: /core/journals/iraq
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed