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"Clay pit, you are the creator of God and man!": Textual evidence for the sources of raw clay used in Mesopotamia

Buyalere, GV; Watanabe, CE; Altaweel, M; (2020) "Clay pit, you are the creator of God and man!": Textual evidence for the sources of raw clay used in Mesopotamia. In: Nakata, I and Nishiaki, Y and Odaka, T and Yamada, M and Yamada, S, (eds.) Prince of the Orient: Ancient Near Eastern Studies in memory of H.I.H. Prince Takahito Mikasa, Orient: Journal of Society for the Near Eastern Studies in Japan. (pp. 175-192). The Society for Near Eastern Studies in Japan: Japan. Green open access

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Abstract

The extraction of raw clay for the manufacture of mudbricks, pottery, tablets and figurines is rarely described in the cuneiform record. Nevertheless, an examination of the sources reveals that the people of ancient Mesopotamia selected the raw material according to their needs from ‘clay pits’ (clay deposits) or other locations. Ritual texts in particular identify the origin of the clay used for the creation of magical figurines. When an exorcist was instructed to take clay from a clay pit, he first had to ritually appease and compensate the pit for its subsequent exploitation. The origin of clay for mudbricks and tablets is given in specific instances; that of potter’s clay can only be deduced from archaeological and anthropological observations.

Type: Book chapter
Title: "Clay pit, you are the creator of God and man!": Textual evidence for the sources of raw clay used in Mesopotamia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.j-orient.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: clay sources, clay pits, clay tablets, clay figurines, Mesopotamia
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10075627
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