Floral and geometric designs ornament these ceramic vessels. The 6-inch-wide flattened bowl is from the Halaf period (6000–5400 B.C.) in northern Mesopotamia. Pottery painting in the Near East goes back at least as far as the seventh millennium B.C. For thousands of years, however, artisans painted pots simply with designs meant to be beautiful, or possibly symbolically meaningful, but not meant to tell stories.