1.0 Introduction

The aim of this paper is to present several of the common petrographic groups that were defined in the course of four decades of mineralogical examinations of Palestinian pottery assemblages. An understanding of these fabrics is particularly important, in view of the interest in early trade in ceramics in the Levantine region. Therefore, although some of the data have been published elsewhere, it would be useful to assemble a list of the most important groups and present their characteristics, the history of their research and their representations in colour.

A 'petrographic group' encompasses vessels, which share similar petrographic affinities in both matrix (clay), inclusions (temper) and technology. In the present paper, this classification is determined according to the qualities of raw materials alone, regardless of variables such as typology, chronology and geographic location of the site. Therefore, it may serve as an independent technical criterion for a comparative assortment of ceramic assemblages. The groups to be described bear characteristic attributes, which enable the reasonable assessment of their geographical origin, and thus may be used for provenance studies.

In the Levantine ceramic repertoire, two classes of clay (in the ceramological sense of the term) were constantly in use: clays derived from geological clay formations, and clay derived from soils and loams. In the following discussion, the key petrographic groups will be divided according to these two principal criteria.


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Last updated: Tue Oct 24 2000