Nabataean Pottery

Nabataean Pottery

The Nabataeans, a nomadic Arab people from north Arabia, began to settle in the Petra area from the late 7th century BC.

 

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The Nabataeans seem to have arrived slowly and integrated peacefully with the settled Edomites, who were, at that time, themselves in the process of migrating to a new homeland in southern Palestine.

Apart from the magnificent architecture of the tombs and temples, the great artistic achievements of the Nabataeans lies in their pottery, produced in large quantities, shreds of which are to be found all over the area.

The manufacture of pottery may be a skill the nomadic Nabataeans learned from the Edomites. Apart from the coarse everyday ware, Nabataean pottery is distinguished by the thinness of its walls, which were sometimes only 1.5 mm thick. It was a pinkish/red color, often decorated by hand with dark brown flower and leaf designs.
The typical egg-shell, shallow open bowls they produced are very difficult to make on the potters wheel, demonstrating how skilled their craftsmen were. A kiln was recently excavated at Wadi Mosa indicating that Petra itself was a center of production. The quality of this pottery declined from the late 3rd century AD onwards, maybe as a result of larger scale production.

 


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