5.5 Class 5

This class is characterised by the high proportion of mica flakes and specks in both the paste and on the surfaces. The main Fabric Groups are 4 and 6 followed by Fabric Groups 5, 8, 18, 16 and (in a very low proportion) 13. All of these fabrics contain mica but differ both in texture, from medium to coarse, and in the presence of other inclusions. The wheel-coiled technique is the one most frequently used in the production of both unrestrictive and restrictive shapes. In both morphological categories, undulations are visible on the surfaces and in the joins of the large coil of the rim and the rest of the vessel. However, for globular pots, a mould might have been used to make the vessel base with coils added later. Few traces of the use of paddle and anvil have been observed in order to join both parts and to thin the sides. In all cases, a light smoothing has been applied on both sides of the vessels.

One of the main differences between Class 5 and Class 3 is that vessels of Class 3 have a micaceous slip applied to the surfaces, while in Class 5 mica flakes and specks are bigger in size, higher in concentration and present in the fabric. The variants of this class have been defined on the basis of differences in surface treatment (none, red slip or black slip), firing atmosphere, and the presence of mica (abundant or less abundant). Apart from Class 5 variant 4, all variants were fired in an oxidising atmosphere that has not been well controlled. Hence, the potsherds frequently show a darker brown core.

Class 5 variant 1 (n=1067) (Figure 19)

The main feature of this variant is the presence of mica flakes and specks in the paste and on both surfaces. Fabric Group 4 is predominant. Traces of reddish-brown slip (2.5YR-7/4 light reddish brown, 7.5YR-6/4 light brown, 5YR-6/2 pinkish gray, 10R-6/6 light red, 2.5YR-6/2 pale red, 7.5YR-5/2 brown, 2.5YR-5/4 reddish brown, 2.5YR-6/4 light reddish brown, 2.5YR-6/6 light red, 5YR-4/1 dark gray, 5YR-5/2 reddish gray) are visible on some potsherds. Yet in most instances it is washed out. For vessel forms, see Lefrancq and Hawkes (2019b, plates 11–16).

Figure 19
Figure 19: Above: external and internal sides of rims, Class 5 variant 1, MHR2002.A4-type 9; middle: external and internal sides of rims, Class 5 variant 1- mix of types, MHR2002.C7; below: external and internal sides of base, Class 5 variant 1-base type 1, MHR2002.F-NW.150.69. Image credit: Authors.

It can be difficult to differentiate between vessels belonging to Class 5 variant 1 and those belonging to Class 3. The smoothing of surfaces can give the feeling that a micaceous slip was applied. The oxidising firing process was not well controlled, and it is often possible to observe 'firing traces' — colour variations within the same potsherd (5YR-5/4 reddish brown, 5YR-5/6 yellowish red, 5YR-6/4 light reddish brown). Vessel shapes are: bowls with an out-turned round rim, plates with out-turned flat rim, plates with a carination below the ribbed/bifoliate rim, jars with an out-turned and splayout rim, jars with an everted and elongated rim marked by an internal carination (most common shape), jars with neck and out-turned rim.

Class 5 variant 2 (n=167) (Figure 20)

Class 5 variant 2 vessels are most frequently made using Fabric Group 6, followed by Fabric Group 4. Mica flakes and specks are visible on both surfaces, though less than on those of Class 5 variant 1. The colour of the slip shows a range of grey and reddish-brown colours (2.5YR-2.5/4 dark reddish brown, 2YR-3/4 dark reddish brown, 5Y-5/1 gray, 5YR-8/3 pink, 10YR-2/1 black) owing to a last reducing phase during the firing process. Shapes consist of bowls with straight rim, carinated pots with an out-turned and slightly elongated rim and jars with neck and complex out-turned rim. For vessel forms, see Lefrancq and Hawkes (2019b, plate 17).

Figure 20
Figure 20: External and internal sides of bowl, Class 5 variant 2-type 2, MHR2002.C8.19-53. Image credit: Authors.

Class 5 variant 3 (n=1559) (Figure 21)

This variant presents a wider range of Fabric Groups (4, 6, 5, 8, 18, 16, 13) and the clay is generally coarser. A red slip is applied on external or internal surfaces depending on the shape but, quite often, the red slip has turned black either because of a non-well controlled firing process or subsequent use (2.5YR-4/8 red, 2.5YR-4/6 red, 2.5YR-3/4 dark reddish brown, 7.5YR-5/1 gray, 7YR-4/3 brown, 10R-4/6 red, 10R-4/8 red, 10R-5/8 red, 10R-4/1 dark reddish gray, 10R-5/6 red). In such circumstances, both colours of slip are visible on the surface. Medium to high quantity of mica flakes and specks are visible on both surfaces. Besides the slip, 'flower' or 'sun' motifs are stamped on the upper part of the body of certain restrictive shapes. A type of basin with a very developed and complex rim displays another impressed decoration on the rim along with 'appliqué' decoration and ridges.

The range of vessels is wide, and includes basins with in-turned, very complex and decorated rim, a series of bowls with in-turned rim, plates with an elongated and carinated rim, jars with small neck and out-turned rim with an impressed/stamped ('flowers or suns') and/or incised decoration on the shoulder, jars with neck and out-turned rim. For vessel forms, see Lefrancq and Hawkes (2019b, plates 18–23).

Figure 21
Figure 21: Above: external and internal sides of rim, Class 5 variant 3-type 2 variant 1, MHR2002.F-SW.6.1; middle left: external side of rim, Class 5 variant 3-type 8, MHR2002.F-NW.124.1; middle right: external side of rim, Class 5 variant 3-type 8, MHR2002.F-NW.120.1; below: external and internal sides of bodysherds with incision and stamped decoration with 'sun-flower', Class 5 variant 3, MHR2002.B1.20/35. Image credit: Authors.

Class 5 variant 4 (n=170) (Figure 22)

Vessels of this variant are most frequently made using Fabric Groups 16, 8, 13 and 4. The paste shows a low frequency of mica flakes and specks. However, the patches of mica are still very visible on both surfaces. Besides the variation in the quantity of mica in section, the most visible difference between this and other variants in this class is the presence of a black slip (10YR-2/1 black, 10YR-3/1 very dark gray, 2.5Y-2.5/1 black) on the external surfaces of restrictive shapes, and on the internal surfaces of unrestrictive shapes. The slip is smoothed and polished showing shiny reflections. Often, parallel lines are incised on the external surface of the neck or on the shoulder of restrictive shapes. Apart from the presence of mica in the fabric and surfaces, vessels of Class 5 variant 4 are similar to those of Class 6 variant 2.

The range of shapes appears to be less developed than those of other variants. They include basins with in-turned rim, shallow bowls, jars with neck and everted rim, pots with everted and out-turned rim. For vessel forms, see Lefrancq and Hawkes (2019b, plates 24–25).

Figure 22
Figure 22: Above: external and internal sides of rim, Class 5 variant 4-type 4, MHR2002.E5.1; below: external side of a neck (left) and of a rim (right), Class 5 variant 4-type 2, MHR2002.D1.5/2. Image credit: Authors.


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