The morphology of iron age storage jars and its relation to the handbreadth measure (Biblical Tefach)

Avshalom Karasik, Ortal Harush, Uzy Smilansky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In this paper we compare morphological features of three groups of Iron Age storage jars that were unearthed in several Judahite and Israelite sites. The most famous group is the royal Judahite storage jars with stamped handles (“lmlk,” “rosette,” etc.). The other two groups are the “Hippo” jars found abundantly in Israelite sites and the jars from Khirbet Qeiyafa (Judah), assigned chronologically to the early 10th century B.C.E. We scanned most of the available jars in 3D and compared them in a detailed morphological study. We extracted several metric measures and observed large variations between jars within a group and, to a larger extent, between jars from different groups. The only exception is the inner rim diameter, which shows surprising uniformity. Moreover, the distribution of inner rim diameters is consistent with anthropometric measurements of the handbreadth of the human male. We provide a detailed description of our methodology and findings and offer a few alternative explanations for the clear correlation between the measured inner rim diameter and the human tefach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-190
Number of pages8
JournalBulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Schools of Oriental Research.


  • 3D scanning
  • Handbreadth
  • Iron Age pottery
  • Tefach


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