Pottery of the Bible!
Bible lands Pottery

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Dictionary of ancient pottery of the Bible
1. Glossary of pottery of the Bible
2. Handbook of pottery of the Bible
3. Encyclopedia of pottery of the Bible
4. How pottery is made
5. How to identify ancient pottery

Midianite Pottery

"Fine dining ware"

Trademark pottery manufactured at Qurayyah in Arabia and brought to Israel through the Kenites.

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Negev Pottery

"Disposable dish ware"

Crude, handmade pottery 1446 - 700 BC of the Negev.

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Cypriot pottery

From the Island of Cypress, this pottery was key to proving the location of Jericho.

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A. Radiocarbon Analysis of Pottery at Khirbat en-Nahas:

  1. See our page on Khirbat en-Nahas.
  2. "Initial observations on the pottery corpus suggest that much of the pottery should be taken as very early Iron Age II, and dated to the tenth-to-ninth centuries, although there are slight indications that some of the material may be earlier and dated to the Iron Age I, of the twelfth -to-eleventh centuries. Collared-rim jars, large jugs, carinated bowls and monochrome and bichrome ring-painted bowls dominate the local assemblage. Included in the local assemblage are a large number of hand-made bowls and holemouth jars that have often been referred to in other reports as Negebite Ware, and taken as indications of an early date. In the context of Khirbat en-Nahas they are clearly associated with local production since they have slag temper, and are not a useful tool for dating." (Reassessing the chronology of Biblical Edom, Thomas E. Levy, 2004 AD)
  3. "However, the current suite of 37 radiocarbon dates from KEN are not without problems (see Higham et al. [Chapter 11, this volume]) and it is clear that many more samples must be tested from sealed archaeological deposits associated with 'cleaner' assemblages of ceramics, scarabs, seals and other archaeological evidence. While the current dates push the occupational history of Edom back to the 12th-9th centuries BCE, the sample size is too small to confront the arguments concerning the High and Low Chronologies for the Iron Age in Israel/Palestine. These dates do bring the Iron Age archaeology of Edom back, to a certain degree, to historical questions raised long ago by Nelson Glueck (1940) concerning the Iron I and Iron Ila. While lack of space prevents a detailed discussion here, the fact that Edom is mentioned no less than 99 times in the Hebrew Bible justifies a re-examination of some historical issues in relation to the new archaeological excavations in the lowland region to establish some working hypotheses for the Iron Age history of Edom. (The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating, Thomas E. Levy, Thomas Higham, 2005, p159)

B. Neutron Activation Analysis of pottery at Timna:

  1. In 1991, J. Gunneweg worked with The Hebrew University and the University of Bonn to do a Neutron Activation Analysis of pottery. This is test allows scientists to identify the trace elements in pottery and establish a unique fingerprint for each of the 81 pieces tested. The purpose was to see if a common type of clay was used from a single geographic location:
    "The purpose of this study is to establish the origin of the three above mentioned different pottery styles in order to shed some light on important inter-regional contacts between, on the one hand, the Negev and Timna and, on the other hand, Egypt, Midian and Edom. These different pottery repertories are listed in Table 1 according to chronological period and style and with the names used in the present study." (Edomite, Negev, Midianite Pottery: Neutron Activation Analysis, Gunneweg, 1991 AD)
  2. It was discovered that the chemical make up of the Midianite pottery at Timna, for example, had a unique very fingerprint:
    "`Midianite' pottery: Two painted 'Midianite' sherds (N27 and 28) from smelting site 2 at Timna show a chemical composition which is different from all pottery seen so far. This 'Midianite' pottery is chemically characterized by an unusually low calcium content ( 0.5%) and high lanthanum and thorium (75 and 25 ppm respectively), whereas cobalt is low (6.5 ppm). (Edomite, Negev, Midianite Pottery: Neutron Activation Analysis, Gunneweg, 1991 AD)
  3. The result of the scientific tests was stunning, since it proved that indeed Midianite pottery found in the Negev was imported from a kiln discovered at Qurayyah, in modern Saudi Arabia.
    "We have compared these data with those obtained from archaeologically defined local 'Midianite' pottery, which was obtained through the late Mrs C.-M. Bennett from Parr's survey at Qurayyah in Midian (Arabia) and analysed at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. Cluster analysis made it clear that the two sherds from Timna statistically match a mixed Timna-Qurayyah group of pottery believed to have been locally made in north-west Arabia, perhaps at Qurayyah. Qurayyah is a likely candidate because this ceramic does not analyse as Negev or Edom wares and Qurayyah is archaeologically the major site in a region which served as a corridor between Arabia and the Negev. However, additional production centres are not excluded, even at sites close to Timna. ... Columns 8 and 9 show the chemical composition of this 'Midianite' pottery. Statistical comparison shows that these compositions are quite similar." (Edomite, Negev, Midianite Pottery: Neutron Activation Analysis, Gunneweg, 1991 AD)
  4. "Early Iron Age I Timna, with its highly centralized metal-mining activities, was certainly dependent on foreign trade because no major settlements have been found near Timna which could have imported Timna's entire copper output. Although Egyptian cartouches and other finds at Timna (including the Hathor Temple itself) may point to at least an Egyptian connection there, the picture obtained from this study is much more complicated. By tracing the copper of Timna one establishes an export trade to distant countries, but this does not answer the question of who was mining and working copper at Timna. This can partly be solved by determining unidirectional trade in pottery of the people who worked there. INAA data show that 75% of all pottery analysed from Timna (Negbite', 'Midianite' and 'faience' wares) was imported from Edom proper, whereas 10% could have come from Arabia (perhaps Qurayyah)." (Edomite, Negev, Midianite Pottery: Neutron Activation Analysis, Gunneweg, 1991 AD)

By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.

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