Sign and Image: Representations of Plants on the Warka Vase of Early Mesopotamia
Near and Middle Eastern Studies
Near Eastern Languages and Societies
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.