In the period 6500 to 5500 BC, a society emerged in northern Mesopotamia and Syria. There shared a common culture and produced some of the finest pottery known for the time. It is named for the site in Syria. Tell Halaf in northeastern Syria.
It refers to a distinctive style of ceramic pottery that was produced during the Halaf culture, which existed here. The culture was widespread in what is now modern-day Turkey, Syria, and northern Iraq.
Among the best-known Halaf sites are:
Arpachiyah, Sabi Abyad, and Yarim Tepe. Small agricultural villages with distinctive buildings known as tholoi. The finest came from Arpachiyah (NE Iraq). It and Tepe Gawra produced typical eastern halaf ware. The western halaf pottery is known from Syria. Sites such as Carchemish, and Halaf itself.
Typically executed in dark brown or black on a cream-colored or light-colored background. It was known for its painted designs
Designs often included intricate geometric patterns, including lines, dots, and various motifs.
It came in a variety of shapes, including bowls, jars, and various vessels
Pottery vessels often have round bottoms, and some of the vessels are quite ornate, featuring handles and spouts.
Decorations served past functionality
Showing artistic expression. The intricate designs are a notable characteristic of this pottery style.
Hand made, well fired. It is even painted with imaginative designs. In one or two colours
They seemed to use there own kind of clay. Which was an improvement from most designs. Elegant looking, and with premium quality.
Potters had fine painted monochrome or polychrome finishes
They were black, brown, red. On a buff background that was burnished. Other vessels were coarser, and were undecorated with hand smoothed surfaces.
They also produced a great variety of amulets and stamp seals of geometric design. And, a range of largely female terracotta figurines that often emphasize the sexual features. Some of the most beautifully painted polychrome ceramics were produced toward the end of the Halaf period. The culture was eventually absorbed into the so-called Ubaid culture, with changes in pottery and building
Halaf pottery is of particular interest to researchers because it represents style in an early agricultural and sedentary society in the region. The Halaf people were engaged in farming and herding, and they established villages with distinctive pottery styles. The transition from a nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settled agriculture and pottery production is a significant aspect of human history and cultural evolution. The Halaf culture provides valuable insights into this transition in the Near East.
Bibliography: Campbell, Stuart. “The Halaf Period in Iraq: Old Sites and New.” Biblical Archaeologist 55 (1992), pp. 182–87.
Hijjara, Ismail. The Halaf Period in Northern Mesopotamia. London: Nabu Publications, 1997.