In the second half of the fourth millennium B.C., painted pottery disappeared entirely in Mesopotamia. Then, in the early third millennium B.C., artisans began producing pottery paintings with narrative scenes—such as the 19-inch-tall vase from Susa.
These paintings clearly tell some kind of story, even if the details are now obscure to us. The division of scenes into registers, the use of common baselines, and the communication of information through the use of space and size all derive from writing, according to author Denise Schmandt-Besserat. Such “writerly” techniques allowed artisans to create the earliest images that tell a story.