Sunday, August 1, 2010

Does Pottery Style Connect the Nile Valley and Syria 5000 Years Ago?

5000 Years Old Archaeological Pottery Craft Unearthed in Syria
By H. Sabbagh
Sunday, 25 July 2010 00:00

The excavations uncovered great numbers of pottery known as "black clay" that strongly imply connections between the occupants of Houran and the people of the Nile Valley.

According to these discoveries, the pottery craft emerged in Houran around 3000 BC, producing pottery of various sizes and purposes, most important of which are those discovered in tombs dating back to the Bronze Age (3100-2100 BC) indicating that the people of Houran at the time believed in an afterlife and buried simple items needed by the deceased with them, similar to the ancient Egyptians.

Archaeologist Yasser Abu Nuqta said most of pottery findings in Houran date back to the early, middle and late Bronze, Iron, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic Ages.

The uncovered pottery includes lanterns, containers, plates, jars, glasses and bottles of various sizes used for a range of purposes, with the various specimens giving a glimpse at the development of the pottery craft and the new techniques that were introduced to it due to cultural interaction and the prosperity of the region throughout the ages.

Abu Nuqta pointed out that the Bronze Age pottery is distinguished by the impurities and stone fragments in the thick clay used in making them, saying that the people of Houran gradually began to purify the clay and bake it at higher temperatures.

During the Roman Age, Houran pottery became beautiful and well-constructed as the use of stone, bone and wooden moulds was introduced into the craft. The same period is characterized by the appearance of the red clay known as "terra sigillata," the considerable attention to decorations and patterns, and the appearance of black clay which is produced by using black soil in the clay mix and baking pottery in closed, smoke-filled kilns.

The Islamic Age saw the emergence of a new technique where pottery was painted with oxidized metals, in addition to multi-colored pottery. Pottery from this era was influenced by Chinese and Iranian art.

Around 4,200 pieces of pottery were discovered by the Daraa Directorate of Archaeology, 1,200 of which were uncovered during the current season at the Tal al-Ashaari tombs which date back to 2100-1600 BC.

Curator of Daraa National Museum Ayham al-Zoubi said that the governorate is known for the black clay pottery which was decorated using needles, noting that this type of pottery is attributed to the Sinai region, while recent studies suggest that Houran may be its source, which affirms that the two civilizations were connected either through trade or wars, adding that discoveries indicate the existence of forms of Ancient Egyptian civilizations in some areas in Houran.

Al-Zoubi pointed out that pottery offers a glimpse of the development of science, economy and religion, saying that the people of Houran used large clay jars to bury the dead and knew the concept of protecting property by applying stamps specific to each merchant on exported goods to protect them from theft or loss.

He also noted that white clay fragments of Cypriot origin prove the existence of commerce between Houran and Cyprus, adding that the area provided potters with all the ingredients they need.

For her part, Curator of Bosra Museum Iman al-Mafaalani said that there are 435 pieces of pottery in Bosra Museum that date back to periods ranging from the late Bronze Age to the Islamic Age, most notable of which are the lanterns used to light family mausoleums according to the tradition at the time, and small explosive devices used during the Ayyubid era.

She pointed out that various expeditions working in Bosra uncovered pottery at the marketplace, the amphitheater and Roman baths, adding that the lanterns dating back to the Islamic era show considerable attention to geometric decorations. (SANA)
I would like to see some examples of the 5,000 year old pottery excavated at Daraa to compare it equally old Egyptian ware.  Since the image included in the article is not tagged or identified in any way, there is no way to know if it is actually from the dig or, if it is from the dig, what its age is, or if the image is just being used by way of illustration and is of something else entirely -- I've run into that issue before.  So, I have not included the image in the article at Global Arab Network.  Below is a photo I took at the Met in May, 2009 of various examples of Naqada pottery, ancient Egypt.

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