University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version

2015

Abstract

The Warka Vase is an iconic artifact of Mesopotamia. In the absence of rigorous botanical study, the plants depicted on the lowest register are usually thought to be flax and grain. This analysis of the image identified as grain argues that its botanical characteristics, iconographical context and similarity to an archaic sign found in proto-writing demonstrates that it should be identified as a date palm sapling. It confirms the identification of flax. The correct identification of the plants furthers our understanding of possible symbolic continuities spanning the centuries that saw the codification of text as a representation of natural language.

Copyright/Permission Statement

© 2015

Embargo Date

11-30-2018

Available for download on Friday, November 30, 2018

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Date Posted: 18 March 2016