Pottery production at Tell es-Safi/Gath: a Longue Durée perspective

David Ben-Shlomo, Joe Uziel, Aren M. Maeir

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18 Scopus citations


The development of pottery production during the Bronze and Iron Ages at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel, is examined based on the analysis of 224 pottery vessels representing most periods within this ca. 1700 years time frame. The main tools employed were visual examination of manufacturing techniques and petrographic thin section analysis, all of which was conducted on the entire group. This was combined with a chronological, functional, typological, and cultural characterization of the samples. The results indicate a tendency of a diachronic shift from the use of calcareous-based clays to non-calcareous clays, from the Bronze Age towards the late Iron Age, although the primary shaping techniques do not change. Intentional tempering, when relevant, is mostly type- or function-dependent. It is suggested that this trend, possibly evident at other sites in the southern Levant as well, may be related to the employment of higher firing temperatures by the potters. This phenomenon may also be related to the decrease in the relative amount of decorated pottery that is seen during the late Iron Age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2258-2273
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is conducted as part of the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project, directed by A.M.M. Funding for the analyses conducted in the project come from a grant from the Israel Science Foundation (No. 344/07) awarded to A.M.M. One of the authors (D.B-S) was supported by the Center of Excellence (Grant No. 300/06) of the Israel Science Foundation and by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation (No. 168/06) during the process of this study. The authors would like to thank the team (staff, students and volunteers) of the ongoing excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath for the hard work that was put into uncovering the relevant finds from the various periods. In particular, Amit Dagan (photos of ceramics) and Anat Perko (graphics) for direct assistance in the preparation of this study. Some of the ideas expressed in this article germinated after participation in a series of seminars on the process of pottery production, organized by N. Panitz-Cohen (Hebrew University, Jerusalem). We would like to thank her for inviting us to participate in these seminars.


  • Bronze age
  • Canaanite
  • Fabric groups
  • Iron age
  • Israel
  • Petrographic analysis
  • Philistia
  • Pottery production
  • Shaping and finishing techniques
  • Wheel technology


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