[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2018.
The mid 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia is defined by the ebb and flow of power politics,
with the Old Babylonian state, the Kassite state, and the kings of the Sealand, vying
for power over the southern alluvial plains. Although widespread sociopolitical instability
is acknowledged during this period, the scarcity of archaeological and textual evidence
has often seen it labelled as a Ă˘Dark AgeĂ˘ in Mesopotamian history. Recent excavation
at the site of Tell Khaiber (2013-2017), southern Iraq, provides the first material
to be reliably associated with this Dark Age, and more specifically to the period
of Sealand control.
This thesis attends to the pottery assemblage from Tell Khaiber as a means of assessing
the everyday lives of a community adapting to this upheaval. This research examines
the pottery assemblage on multiple analytical levels, synthesising a vast body of
textual, archaeological, scientific, and material data. Firstly, a comprehensive Sealand
period typology is subjected to stylistic comparison on both a local and (inter)regional
level, in order to assess the shifting networks of interaction at play during this
period. The thesis then turns to a detailed analysis of pottery production, focusing
particularly on production techniques, the standardisation of the product, and the
scale of the industry. Finally, various pottery use-contexts are established, and
the distribution of these activities are mapped onto Tell KhaiberĂ˘s public building.
Since these multi-faceted pottery engagements articulated with the (re)production
of Sealand society and economy, this research provides unparalleled insights into
the everyday workings of this poorly understood state system.