What Defines the ETC?

By: Stephen Batiuk and Mitchell S. Rothman

Originally Published in 2007

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The fabric and manufacture of ETC ceramic types are easily distinguished from local pottery. Local wheel-made types include: (a) EB 1 Mesopotamian pottery from Arslantepe, Turkey, and (b) Tilbes Höyük, Northern Euphrates, Turkey. ETC ceramics include: (c) EB Nachichevan lugs from the Urmia Basin, northwest Iran; (d) EB 1 pots from Arslantepe; (e, f, g) EB 1/2 ceramics from Godin Tepe, central west Zagros Mountains, Iran; (h) a Georgian-style EB sherd from Könk in Elazig, Turkey; (i) EB 2b/3 groove and line ware sherds that combine ETC and local techniques from Mus, , Turkey; (j) EB 3 jars from Lorut, Armenia; (k) a EB 3 hole-mouthed bowl from Karnut, Armenia; (l, m) Red Black Burnished Ware / Khirbet Kerak Ware from Tell Taiynat, ‘Amuq, Turkey; (n, o) MB 1 pots from Sos Höyük, Erzurum, Turkey; and (p) MB 2 pots and fireplace andiron from Sos Höyük, Erzurum, Turkey. Photos courtesy of Marcella Frangipane, University of Rome, Italian Mission in Turkey (a, d); Mitchell S. Rothman, Widener University (b, e, f, g, h, i); Stephan Kroll, University of Munich (c); Armine Hayrapetyan, National Academy of Sciences, Yerevan, Armenia (j, k); Timothy Harrison, University of Toronto (l, m); and Antonio Sagona, University of Melbourne (n, o, p).

ETC cultures were first identified on the basis of their pottery in the Transcaucasus area between the Kura and Araxes Rivers and between the Caspian and Black Seas. Their very distinctive pottery is handmade and predominantly black on the outside and red or black on the inside. It is highly burnished and often has incised or raised designs of particular shapes. In contrast, the pottery traditionally made in the areas to which ETC pottery spread was wheel-made, buff in color, often painted, and used different shapes for possibly different functions.

Although recent research indicates that the black-red variant may have originated in northeastern Turkey and then spread into the Transcaucasus, over time both ETC pottery types (black-red and black-black) spread south. Early archaeologists interpreted this as evidence for the migration of a monolithic ETC culture, since, at the time, archaeologists saw cultures as collections of distinct artifacts that were thought to represent distinct peoples.

Today our anthropological understanding sees cultures consisting of people organized in definable groups who share belief systems and behavioral patterns which may or may not correspond directly to collections of artifacts. As a result, we must ask what this pattern of spread meant in terms of the cultures involved. Is it evidence of a migration of people? Does it indicate the trade of goods between neighboring cultures? Or does it reflect the assimilation of a foreign pottery style by local people?

Cite This Article

Batiuk, Stephen and Rothman, Mitchell S.. "What Defines the ETC?." Expedition Magazine 49, no. 1 (March, 2007): -. Accessed May 29, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/what-defines-the-etc/

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