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Halaf Figurines Project: A Catalog of Figurines Excavated from Sixth Millennium Northern Mesopotamian Sites in Syria and Turkey

Anthropomorphic figurines known from Halaf sites, northern Mesopotamia. Data from studying objects in museums, site depots and publications.

Project Abstract

Project Description

This data was collected as part of a doctoral study (Belcher 2014) which cataloged and analyzed a corpus of anthropomorphic figurines from archaeological sites dating to the Halaf period (Sixth Millennium cal BCE) known from excavations in Turkey and Syria. The dissertation presented a detailed catalog of 197 figurine examples, both whole and fragmented, and their excavated contexts from seven Halaf sites in Turkey and nine Halaf sites in Syria. This project will eventually publish all of this data as well as newly found Halaf figurine assemblages.


Methodological Notes

Each figurine is assigned a unique number, based upon an abbreviation of the site from which it came (see attached table). The data was recorded from the actual objects in museums and excavation depots (when possible) and/or from publications. The fullest morphological description possible of each figurine in its current condition is presented in each record. Archaeological context is also recorded based on publications, archives, and/or information recorded on materials stored with each figurine. Drawings and photographs, unless otherwise indicated are created by Ellen Belcher. The cataloging schema and conventions of 13 fields of data is included as a document linked to this project page.

Dating follows a simplified convention early or late Halaf phases, with assignments based upon stratigraphic or typological data. Hypothetical date assignments are used only in a few instances. This data set implements, for the first time, a comprehensive typology of Halaf figurines developed as part of the doctoral project, which is also partially presented in Belcher, 2016.


Potential Applications of this Data

This project offers a fuller understanding of what Halaf figurines are through a complete cataloging of their attributes. In addition, it serves as an example of cataloging methods and comparative analysis through typology of excavated assemblages of figurines excavated and recorded by disparate methods. All information on storage numbers and locations and accessibility is noted in each record to facilitate restudy of these objects.


Data Sets

The first data sets available through this project are:

  1. 27 figurines found during the 1995 – 2011 excavations at Domuztepe under the direction of Stuart Campbell.
  2. 21 figurines found during the 1935 excavations at Chagar Bazar under the direction of Sir. Max Mallowan.

This data publication will gradually grow to include additional figurine corpora from other Halaf settlement excavations as future funding permits.


Support

Publishing of the initial two data sets in this project is supported by a 2016 Award from the Open Access Publication Funding Program from The John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY, Office of the Advancement of Research.


References

Belcher, E.

forthcoming
The Figurines. In, S. Campbell and E. Carter. Prehistoric Domuztepe.


Belcher, E.

2016
Identifying Female in the Halaf: Prehistoric Agency and Modern Interpretation. Journal of Archeological Method and Theory. doi: 10.1007/s10816-016-9291-1


Belcher, E.

2014
Embodiment of the Halaf: Sixth Millennium Figurines from Northern Mesopotamia (Columbia University, unpublished PhD thesis).


Belcher, E.

2007
Fifth Millennium Anthropomorphic Figurines in Southeastern and Central Anatolia: Comparative Museum Research. Araştırma Sonuçları Toplantısı 25/3: 233 – 246. http://academicworks.cuny.edu/jj_pubs/71/


Belcher, E and K. Croucher

2016
Exchanges of Identity in Prehistoric Anatolian Figurines. In, R. A. Stucky, O. Kaelin & H. P. Mathys (Eds.), Proceedings of the 9th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (9th ICAANE). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, Vol. I, pp. 43-56. URL: http://academicworks.cuny.edu/jj_pubs/57/


Croucher K. and Belcher, E.

in press
Prehistoric Figurines in Anatolia (Turkey). Chapter 20 in T. Insoll (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Prehistoric Figurines. Oxford: Oxford University Press. /


Mallowan, M. E. L.

1936
The Excavations at Tall Chagar Bazar, and an Archaeological Survey of the Habur Region, 1934-5. Iraq, 3(1), 1–85. URL: www.jstor.org/stable/4241586/




Table of Catalog Schema & Conventions

Catalog Field Explanation and source of data within field
Dissertation Number Unique number assigned to each figurine. Please see below for site abbreviations and modern locations.
Museum Number, Excavation Number, Other Number Records the current location of the figurine example and all numbers associated with it from the field recording to museum cataloging. All numbers including those of former museums since superseded by new numbers are recorded when available. These numbers are often found written on the figurine or bags and tags physically associated with it and are sometimes found in published reports or excavation archives. Please see below for museum abbreviations and locations.
Type The type of figurine incorporating phase, type, and subtype to which this figurine is assigned in this dissertation.
Date Halaf phase to which this figurine is assigned in this dissertation, stated either by stratigraphy, typology, or hypothesis.
Findspot Reported excavation season year, level, excavation unit, locus, and lot of where the figurine was found.
Archaeological Context Interpretation of the above findspot, association with built or other features, further discussed in the relevant locations in Chapters 4 or 5.
Drawing, Photograph Unless otherwise noted, the drawings and photographs were made by the author with permission of the rights holders. Photographs and drawings by others as noted are reproduced with their permission. These images are not to scale with each other, but millimeter scales are incorporated when available.
Description This includes a description of the figurine example, beginning with the overall morphological shape, gender when discernible by biological markers of sexual difference, and representation of all bodily elements from the head downward. The last part of the description is dedicated to the surface decoration and stability of standing or sitting on a flat surface with or without support. When conjecture is used in the description because of missing fragments, the description or plural is placed in [brackets].
Size The length, width, and thickness of all examples are presented to the tenth of a millimeter as generally read on the same set of calipers throughout the study period. If the figurine was not available for hands-on measurement, estimations are placed in [brackets].
Technology This includes a description of visual observations relating to the making and use of the figurine. This description begins with a statement of the raw material and a Munsell color reading of the surface, core, and paint when available and overall manipulation of the material (e.g., baked, unbaked, assembled, cut, ground). The last part of the technical description considers evidence for use.
Condition Description of the current condition of the figurine as observed including modern repairs if any.
Comparanda This is a statement of any similar examples of figurines elsewhere in the corpus. If a figurine is an example of a well-established type, such as LH.1A figurines, they are not offered as comparanda with each other unless there is a certain compelling aspect of the examples that visually or technologically link them to each other.
Publication Recording of all known instances of publication of the particular figurine example. Full citations to publications can be found in the References Consulted section of this dissertation. Note is made if a figurine is unpublished.


Museum Abbreviations used in this Catalog

  • Ash: Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK
  • Alep: Aleppo Archaeological Museum, Syria
  • BM: British Museum, London, UK
  • DezZ: Der ez Zor Archaeological Museum, Syria
  • Diyar: Dıyarbakır Archaeological Museum, Turkey
  • Fitz: Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK
  • Hat: Hatay Archaeological Museum, Antakya, Turkey
  • Homs: Homs Archaeological Museum, Homs, Syria
  • IofA: Institute of Archaeology, University of London, UK
  • McD: McDonald Archaeological Institute, Cambridge University, UK
  • MAA: Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge University, UK
  • Maraş: Kahramanmaraş Archaeological Museum, Turkey
  • Mard: Mardin Archaeological Museum, Turkey
  • Raq: Raqqa Archeological Museum, Syria
  • THmus: Tell Halaf Museum, Berlin (destroyed in November 1943)
  • Urfa: Şanlıurfa Archaeological Museum, Turkey

Site Abbreviations used in this Catalog and Modern Locations

  • Arj: Arjoune (Orontes, Homs, Syria)
  • CB: Chagar Bazar (Balikh, Syria)
  • ÇT: Çavı Tarlası (Euphrates, Turkey)
  • Bey: Tell Beydar (Khabur, Syria)
  • DT: Domuztepe (Cilicia, Amanus, Turkey)
  • FH: Fıstıklı Höyük (Euphrates, Turkey)
  • GH: Girikihacıyan (Tigris, Turkey)
  • KeshS: Khirbet esh-Shenef (Balikh, Syria)
  • KerkH: Kerkuşti Höyük (Mardin, Turkey)
  • KK: Tell Kashkashok (Khabur, Syria)
  • KH: Kazane Höyük (Euphrates, Turkey)
  • SAB: Tell Sabi Abyad (Balikh, Syria)
  • TA: Tell Aqab (Khabur, Syria)
  • TH: Tell Halaf (Khabur, Syria)
  • TK: Tell Kurdu (Hatay, Turkey)
  • UQ: Umm Qseir (Khabur, Syria)

Annotations (4)

Property or Relation Value(s)
Subject
[Standard: Dublin Core Terms]
Coverage
[Standard: Dublin Core Terms]
Temporal Coverage
[Standard: Dublin Core Terms]
Halaf culture
[Standard: Library of Congress Subject Headings]
Status
Editorial Note

Open Context editors work with data contributors to annotate datasets to shared vocabularies, ontologies, and other standards using 'Linked Open Data' (LOD) methods.

The annotations presented above approximate some of the meaning in this contributed data record to concepts defined in shared standards. These annotations are provided to help make datasets easier to understand and use with other datasets.

Suggested Citation

Ellen Belcher. "Halaf Figurines Project: A Catalog of Figurines Excavated from Sixth Millennium Northern Mesopotamian Sites in Syria and Turkey". (2017) Ellen Belcher (Ed.) . Released: 2017-02-01. Open Context. <http://opencontext.org/projects/6eebf118-1c43-409e-8a47-307380d5d261> DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.6078/M7736NTG

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