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Eleanor Lucy Preston

The Ubaid in the Persian Gulf: compositional and petrographic analysis of potsherds from Iraq to the Straits of Hormuz

Eleanor Preston

Email: eleanor.preston.16@ucl.ac.uk
Section: World Archaeology

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The Ubaid in the Persian Gulf: compositional and petrographic analysis of potsherds from Iraq to the Straits of Hormuz

Maritime trade in the Persian Gulf has been a pivotal feature of world trading systems from the Bronze Age to the present. Understanding its origins in prehistory is essential for any broader interpretation of early social and economic developments between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean. The key period in this respect is the mid-late sixth millennium BCE, when material culture of Mesopotamian origin is first documented in the Gulf. The material remains are in the form of potsherds from the southern Mesopotamian Ubaid tradition, which have been found as far as the Straits of Hormuz, 900km from Iraq. Chemical analysis, conducted on the Ubaid-ware found in Arabia, determined that these potsherds originated from southern Mesopotamia and were not local imitations. These Ubaid-ware sherds, alongside a coarse-ware, believed to be local, are the earliest ceramic material found in Arabia. However, after the Ubaid period came to an end by the end of the 5th millennium BCE, ceramic artefacts are not seen again in Arabia for nearly a millennium. Therefore this early appearance of ceramics in the Gulf region takes on a central role in approaching the wider questions of cross-cultural interaction. However, questions concerning provenance remain. This PhD research uses ICP-AES data and thin-section analysis from both the Ubaid-ware and the local ware with the aim of furthering our understanding of the exchange relationship between Mesopotamia and Arabia and putting the Ubaid within the context of the Arabian Neolithic nomadic population.

Funding

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Education

    • BA (Hons.), Ancient History, University of Reading, 2008
    • MA Archaeology, University of Reading, 2015