The corpus of potmarks from Tarkhan

Lisa Mawdsley

Centre for Archaeology and Ancient History, Monash University, Victoria, Australia

In 2006 a dedicated study of the potmarks from Tarkhan was undertaken (Mawdsley 2006a). One of the initial aims of the study was to identify the original pottery carriers of all of the 282 published marks in order to draw more accurate conclusions regarding the possible function and meaning of Dynasty 1 potmarks. To date, the pottery carriers for 191 marks have been identified. This research has also resulted in the identification of an additional 74 potmarks, bringing the total number of marks to 356. A further aim of the study was to assess the extent to which the trends identified for Dynasty 1 potmarks by van den Brink (1992) were observable at Tarkhan. In terms of interpreting the data, van den Brink (1992, 274) proposed that marks applied to certain types of pottery may be linked to a centralized administrative body responsible for a commodity distribution or redistribution network, possibly connected with funerary practices. Based upon the study of the Tarkhan marks, this paper presents an alternative explanation, arguing that the majority of marks represent a pre-mortuary administrative function and were used to denote the origin or destination of the original contents of the jar in its first stage of use.

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To reference this article we suggest:

Mawdsley, L. 2009. The corpus of potmarks from Tarkhan. BMSAES 13: 197–219.

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