4.0 Results

4.1. Typology

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All the ceramics studied here have stonepaste bodies, and are of types shown by earlier studies to be made in Syria (Mason 1997). The stonepaste technology was introduced into Syria in about AD 1075 from Egypt, together with knowledge of tin-opacified glazes, lead-alkali glazes and the lustre-painting technology (Mason 1997). After about 1100 the Syrian potters switched to an alkali glaze, and at this time discovered underglaze-painting, in which decoration is applied by oxide pigments, notably including cobalt for blue. Typological study of Syrian pottery before 1250 (Mason 1997) has defined seven main groups. Group One, comprising 'Tell Minis' Lustre-painted and Polychrome-relief ('Laqabi') wares attributed tentatively to western Syria, is dated to c. 1075-1100/25 (Figure 2); Group Two, comprising Lustre-painted wares possibly attributed to Raqqa and elsewhere, is dated to c. 1125-1150 (Figures 3 and 4); Group Three, comprising polychrome underglaze-painted wares attributed to Damascus, is dated to c. 1125-1150; Group Four, representing Lustre-painted wares from Raqqa, polychrome underglaze-painted wares from Damascus, and bichrome underglaze-painted wares from 'Ma'arrat', is dated to c. 1150-1175/1200 (Figures 5 and 6); Group Five, comprising polychrome underglaze-painted wares from Damascus and Raqqa, is dated to c. 1150/75-1200; Group Six, comprising bichrome underglaze-painted wares from Raqqa and 'Ma'arrat', is dated to c. 1150/75-1200/50 (Figures 7 and 8); and Group Seven, comprising Lustre-painted wares attributed to Raqqa, is dated to c. 1200-1250 (Mason 1997). The period following 1250 up until about 1500 is often named the Mamluk period, after the dynasty of that name ruling from Egypt. Typological studies of Mamluk period wares are less well developed, but types include lustre wares and underglaze-painted wares, the latter being divided into generally earlier geometric styles, and vegetal designs based on imports of Yuan blue and white porcelain from China dated to after about AD 1380 (Figure 9). In the Mamluk and in subsequent periods, glazed-ware production in Syria appears to be based entirely in Damascus.

A specific point of interest of the Aleppo pottery is the presence of a large group of polychrome underglaze-painted wares which may be attributed generally to an early phase of Group Six (late 12th century), but which include a restricted group of repeated motifs which are not known from other sites. It has been suggested that these were made in Aleppo (Gonnella, in press).

4.2 Petrofabrics

It is now an established convention for petrographic studies at Toronto to name petrofabrics by the following procedure. At each site a number sequence is established for each distinctive petrofabric. At Aleppo, four petrofabrics have been defined amongst the eighteen samples considered typologically to represent Syrian wares. This sequence is referred to in quotation marks, so the sequence comprises the 'Aleppo 1' Petrofabric to the 'Aleppo 4' Petrofabric (note the upper-case P for a defined petrofabric). Some petrofabrics will also be attributed to production at a specific site, for instance 'Aleppo 1' Petrofabric is the Aleppo Petrofabric, being reliably attributed to Aleppo. If attribution is not based on analysis of production evidence, but seems a reasonable attribution nonetheless, perhaps based on epigraphic or historical evidence, then the site attribution is provided with a question mark in parenthesis, for example 'Aleppo 2' Petrofabric is Damascus(?) Petrofabric. One wrinkle in this procedure is with the petrofabrics attributed to Raqqa, as there is a Raqqa-1 Petrofabric, formerly erroneously attributed to the site, and a Raqqa-2 Petrofabric, now known to be the genuine Raqqa petrofabric. The Raqqa attribution problem is discussed further in the next section.

Syrian Petrofabrics found at Aleppo
'Aleppo 1' PetrofabricAlepposample in Figure 7, thin-section Figure 10
'Aleppo 2' Petrofabric Damascus?samples in Figures 6 and 9, thin-section Figure 11
'Aleppo 3' Petrofabric Raqqa-2sample in Figure 8, thin-section Figure 12
'Aleppo 4' Petrofabric 'Ma'arrat'samples in Figures 4 and 5, thin-section Figure 13
Major Syrian Petrofabrics not as yet found at Aleppo
Raqqa-1 Petrofabric-sample in Figure 3, thin-section Figure 14
'Tell Minis' Petrofabric-sample in Figure 2, thin-section Figure 15


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Last updated: Tue Oct 24 2000