6.0 Conclusions

The petrographic characterisation of the coarseware fabrics reported here have shown that certain types of vessel were made in specific fabrics, reflecting in some instances, at least, their different provenances. The red and grey cooking wares were produced in similar styles and sizes, but were made of different fabrics and fired under different conditions. It seems likely that they are the products of two or more workshops. Although the petrography of these wares is consistent with the local geology, it is not diagnostic and the widespread distribution of these cooking wares, all over the Levant, means that non-local manufacture must be considered.

The petrographic analysis has confirmed that the 'non-local' reddish storage jars and amphorae were indeed imported into Deir 'Ain 'Abata, probably for the goods they contained. These transport vessels were manufactured in two geographically distinct areas. The Late Roman I Type amphorae and 'non-local' storage jars (with one exception) were manufactured in a single fabric in either the Antioch region of Northern Syria or Cyprus, while the two 'Gaza' amphorae, which fall into a separate fabric group, almost certainly were produced in the Gaza area. The mortarium, which has a unique exotic fabric, was possibly imported from Ras al-Basit on the North Syrian coast.

The 'local' cream storage jars (with one exception) and one 'non-local' storage jar were made in a single fabric, probably locally. The presence of pottery wasters at Safi (Zoara), which is less than 5km away, suggests it may be a production centre for Late Antique pottery. However, the kilns at Safi have not yet been excavated, so no information is available, but it could be expected that at least some pottery produced at Safi would be consumed at Deir 'Ain 'Abata.

It appears that little or no pottery was made at the site of Deir 'Ain 'Abata, and that it was mainly a site of pottery consumption, consistent with the findings from other monastic sites. The movement of people, especially pilgrims, round the Levant is well attested in the historical literary record. The pilgrims visited holy sites, which commonly had monasteries built on or near them. Some of these monasteries provided hostels for visiting pilgrims. Catering for the pilgrims would have necessitated the use of a large amount of pottery. Some of this, such as cooking wares, may have been produced relatively locally. Other vessels, however, appear to have been imported from some distance away, perhaps as the containers for transport of goods such as wine and oil. This assemblage of vessel types and the mix of imported and relatively locally produced pottery seems to be typical of other Late Antique sites, including monastic settlements, throughout the Levant.

6.1 Future work

Excavations at Safi may reveal whether or not the cooking wares and 'Local' storage jars were manufactured there. The possibility that certain vessels may have been manufactured in specific production centres for the exportation of certain products, resulting in their widespread distribution across the region, needs to be investigated further.


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Last updated: Tue Oct 24 2000