Aynur Özfırat

Keywords: Van-Urmiye Culture, 2nd Millenium B.C., Shoe-shaped Vessels


The shoe-shaped vessels originating from Transcaucasia and northern Anatolia in museum collections consist almost exclusively in chance finds. Their sound condition suggests that they are a by­product of grave robbing. They may be grouped into two classes: a) low-cut sandals and b) medium-high boots. Two belonging to the first group exhibit painted decoration (1, 2) and the other is decorated in the sgraffito technique (3); both the vessels in the second group (4, 5) possess painted decoration. Forms similar to the low-cut sandal vessels from Anatolia have occurred at Alişar II, Kültepe II, and Boğazköy in the era of the Hittite Empire. Specimens comparable to the high-boot type have appeared at Kültepe II, in the inscribed vase of the Early Hittite period and in the Karaşamb goblet from the Middle Bronze Age. The examined vessels are of the painted-decoration type characteristic of Transcaucasia and northern Anatolia in the Middle and Late Bronze Age. This culture, designated here as Aras Painted Ware, has a distribution area bounded in the north by the southern foot of the Caucasus Mountains, in the east by the Caspian Sea, and in the south by the western shoreline of Lake Urmiye and in the west by a line drawn between Muş, Erzurum, and Artvin. In this region, shoe-shaped vessels have been encountered in the Lake Van basin and Şahtahtı in Naxcivan, and, from a somewhat later date-that is to say, from the Late Bronze Period and the Early Iron Age-at David-Beka, Ltsen, Djulfa, Kızılvank, and Mingeçayır. According to current data, shoe-shaped vessels are peculiar to the Middle Bronze Age as a subgroup of Aras Painted Ware and part of the Van-Urmiye culture that encompasses Naxcivan, Van-Erzurum, and the western shores of Lake Urmiye. The chronology of the Van-Urmiye Painted Ware-and consequently that of the shoe-shaped vessels-is difficult to trace precisely. Most likely, it first emerged in the Middle Bronze Age. In the light of its find-centers, such as Haftavantepe, Dinkhatepe, Horom, and the Sos Tumulus, a tentative dating should lie between the 20th and the 14th-­13th centuries B.C.