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Çanak: Late Antique and Medieval Pottery and Tiles in Mediterranean Archaeological Contexts. Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Late Antique, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman Pottery and Tiles in Archaeological Context

July 2010 (114.3)

Book Review

Çanak: Late Antique and Medieval Pottery and Tiles in Mediterranean Archaeological Contexts. Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Late Antique, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman Pottery and Tiles in Archaeological Context

Edited by Beate Böhlendorf-Arslan, Ali Osman Uysal, and Johanna Witte-Orr. Byzas 7. Pp. 558, figs. 326, pls. 31, tables 4. Ege Yayınları, Istanbul 2007. €75. ISBN 978-975-807-197-5 (paper).

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This volume is devoted to the proceedings of a symposium held in Çanakkale, Turkey, under the auspices of the German Archaeological Institute in Istanbul and Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University. The organization of the conference, by Böhlendorf-Arslan, is an impressive achievement in itself, and the contributions provide an excellent overview of the different approaches to the study of ceramic production in the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Sea regions. The material dates from late antiquity to the Ottoman period and includes pottery, tiles, bricks, and pipes. The articles vary considerably in length; some clearly form parts of works still in progress, while others stand as final publications of small groups of ceramics.

The 36 papers cannot be discussed individually within the limited scope of this review, but they can be divided into groups according to their approaches. An important focal point of the symposium was the problem of regional production of ceramics, architectural tiles, and pipes. Some articles approach pottery production in different regions of the Mediterranean, percentages of imports to different centers, and locally produced variants. An introduction by Böhlendorf-Arslan, Uysal, and Witte-Orr summarizes the centers of production, chronology of products, unknown groups of coarse wares, different characteristics of local wares, and the problem of common terminology for ware groups.

This may be one of the last symposia to include such a broad geographical and chronological range of ceramics. Byzantine ceramic studies are developing at such a pace that specialization, and perhaps overspecialization, seem inevitable. If a subsequent symposium is held, it will need to address more detailed discussion of the chronology of the glazing tradition in the Mediterranean and should establish a common terminology to be used by future specialists of Byzantine, medieval, Seljuk, and Ottoman pottery.

Grandi’s paper concerns Aegean (Phocaean Red Slip Ware) and African (African Red Slip Ware) imports to the Veneto sites of San Francesco del Deserto and Torcello from the fifth to seventh centuries C.E. and summarizes the nature of the settlements (military, civilian). Production of local lead-glazed (single-fired) ware and slip wares that imitate African Red Slip Ware are noted. Petrova’s paper serves as the first English-language publication of yellow pottery from the excavations of several building complexes at Pliska in Bulgaria, datable to the eighth to ninth centuries. Several subgroups are identified by using chemical and mineralogical analysis.

Petridis discusses locally produced ceramics at Delphi that were exported to Athens at the end of the sixth or seventh century. He maintains that Athens and Corinth also exported to small centers such as Delphi from the second to fourth centuries C.E. and concludes that such exports decreased from the fifth century onward, when sites started to decline economically. Japp presents the results of her preliminary analysis of ceramic imports to Alexandria Troas. The percentages of imports are estimated, and the author considers the site’s connection to the West during the Early Imperial period and onward. During late antiquity, most imports derive from Aegean (e.g., Phocaean Red Slip Ware) and African centers. The amphora imports are North African Tripolitana III series datable to the third to fourth centuries C.E., followed by Tunisian types from the fourth to sixth centuries (related to the Keay 36/Beltran 63 type). The catalogue includes Late Byzantine pottery: Zeuxippos derivatives from the 12th to 13th centuries, kitchen ware, and Ottoman tobacco pipes and jugs from the 16th to 17th centuries.

Erol discusses the Eastern and Western Sigillata from the State Agora of İzmir (Smyrna). The agora was built during the Hellenistic period, was destroyed by an earthquake in 178 C.E., and was rebuilt by Marcus Aurelius. Eastern Sigillata examples are dated by analogy to the Athenian Agora, Samaria, and Tarsus. The Eastern Sigillata A examples date to the first centuries B.C.E./C.E. (EAA F.22B, 31, 40A). Some are Pergamene/Çandarlı so-called pale-fabric variants misunderstood and catalogued under Eastern Sigillata A (cat. nos. 9, 11, 13, 15). The Eastern Sigillata B (EAA F.8, 71) examples, and those with stamped decoration, may derive from Tralleis workshops dating to the last quarter of the first century or second century C.E. The Eastern Sigillata C (Çandarlı) examples, which date from the second to third centuries (EAA F.1, 2, 3, 4) are common forms. A stamped Italian Sigillata of Julio-Claudian date is included, but the examples presented as Gaulish Sigillata are perhaps better identified as Çandarlı, dating to the second to third centuries C.E.

Doğer presents Byzantine pottery of the state agora kept in the İzmir Archaeological Museum, but unfortunately, her catalogue does not relate to stratigraphic units. The catalogue includes African Red Slip Ware from the fourth to fifth centuries (e.g., Hayes form F.91A); Phocaean Red Slip Ware, mostly from after the fifth century; and Stamped West Asia Minor Pale Ware. She also treats Middle Byzantine Impressed White Ware (undecorated, painted variety) (ninth–11th centuries); Aegean Ware (12th–13th centuries); Late Byzantine Zeuxippos derivative wares (late 12th–13th centuries), and small groups of Brown Stained and Green Stained Ware (13th–14th centuries). Yılmaz presents the results of chemical analysis on Hayes forms F.1–3 of Phocaean Red Slip Ware from Priene. Overfired examples of Phocaean Red Slip Ware (Hayes form F.3) derive from Gryneion, and several examples come from Ephesos. Her third group consists of locally produced examples.

Kenkel presents different centers of production for Cypriote Red Slip Ware. Included in the article are examples from Pednelissos (Pisidia), with new forms after Hayes Late Roman Pottery (London 1972). The derivatives of Hayes forms F.1–3 date from the late fourth century through the third quarter of the fifth century. Form F.5 (sixth century) is not as common. Form F.6 (sixth–seventh centuries) has parallels in Perge, forms F.7 and F.8 are relatively common, and form F.9 (seventh century) has several variants. Only one example of an F.10 derivative was found (mid seventh century). Korkut presents cooking ware, locally produced vessels, and amphoras from Gaza (LR1b, LR4 in Riley’s typology [J.A. Riley, “The Coarse Pottery,” in J.A. Lloyd, ed., Excavations at Sidi Khrebish Benghazi (Berenice). Vol. 2, LibAnt Suppl. 5 (Tripoli 1979)]) from Patara, from both buildings and graves. The cooking wares represent significant, well-distributed types modeled after mid-Roman examples in the fourth century C.E., along with sixth- and seventh-century types (e.g., Cypriote skillets).

Ricci presents Cilician amphoras (LR1b types) and kiln waste from Elaiussa Sebaste, from contexts dating roughly to the third decade of the sixth century. Morphological changes from the sixth to seventh centuries can be attested among the catalogued examples. The imported group includes amphoras from Gaza, which were produced in the Accra region. The fabric is similar to LR5 and LR6; LR3 is present in higher quantities, and there are some examples of LR7 from Egypt. As in Patara, Cyprian skillets were found in Elaiussa Sebaste. Most of the cooking wares originated on Cyprus and in the Aegean.

Abadie Reynal, Martz, and Cador present the fifth-century pottery of Zeugma. African Red Slip Ware is in the highest majority of fine wares, with destruction layers providing a terminus post quem of the fourth century. A local group for food preparation is found in third- to fourth-century contexts. Storage and cooking vessels (Martz) are of a homogeneous type with a globular body characteristic of third-century tradition, although slight differences appear in forms dating to the fifth and sixth centuries. Cador presents storage amphoras similar to Syrian (Ta’as) examples with red and black slip. Common imported types are Aegean (Kapitan II) (see Riley 1979) and western amphoras. Avner’s paper highlights fifth-century construction in Jerusalem, when Empress Eudocia settled in the Holy Land in 444 C.E.

Beckh presents material from the Coptic monastery of Deir el-Bakhit (west bank of the Nile) from the early sixth to the mid eighth centuries. This includes different forms of Egyptian Red Slip Ware A and local amphoras (Aswan). D’Amico focuses on Italian Glazed White Ware, specifically its chronology and distribution throughout the Mediterranean. Chemical analysis indicates a possible origin close to Istanbul (the south shore of the Dardanelles, Yenice, or east of Aksaz). Beykoz, near Aşağı Dudullu, has been suggested by Hayes as the potential source. D’Amico discusses both plain and painted examples found in Istanbul (seventh–eighth centuries, although they continue into the ninth, 10th, and 12th centuries). Byzantine and Islamic ware groups from western harbor sites are also discussed.

Arthur’s paper focuses on imports and local production in southern Apulia during the eighth century, and it deals with both Byzantine and Islamic examples. He includes a map of medieval sites in Lecce and reviews the political changes in the territory during the 12th century, which caused a change in Apulian ceramic assemblages. The color photos will prove especially useful to students of ceramics. Cottica presents locally produced Micaceous White Painted Ware from Middle Byzantine levels in Hierapolis (Pamukkale) from the seventh to 10th centuries, as well as local amphoras and pottery for food preparation and consumption.

Three papers deal with the important results of the Amorium excavations. Böhlendorf-Arslan offers a full catalogue of Early and Middle Byzantine pottery from undisturbed contexts of the city wall, which is dated by the coins found at the site. Her catalogue includes Late Roman pottery from earlier contexts with some local coarse ware types, fine red slip pottery, Amorium Glazed Ware, and regional productions. Witte-Orr presents architectural terracottas (bricks and tiles) from the triangular tower of Amorium. The chronology is vague, but her catalogue illustrates common types in use from the fifth to the ninth centuries. Koçyiğit presents terracotta spacers (tubuli) from the sixth-century baths, which contained elaborate heating systems.

Vroom presents pit material from Durres (central Albania), of which 90% is datable to the 15th/16th century and 10% to the 13th/14th century. The pottery was used for beverage consumption and the distribution of liquids. This publication is the first to deal with medieval and postmedieval finds from a stratified context in Albania. Dimopoulos catalogues 12th/13th-century Sgraffito Wares produced at Sparta, as well as the locally produced Measles Ware and pottery wasters. She highlights the local decoration, which includes rabbits, other animals in tondi, cross hatching, and wavy lines on outturned rims. Kontogiannis et al. present the finds from the medieval castle of Andros, under the domain of the pro-Venetian Ducat of the Archipelago (1207). The pottery includes Byzantine and Ottoman imports related to the conquest of the castle in 1566. The finds are imports from different regions, illustrating intense naval activity in the Aegean from the 13th century onward. Ottoman wares include Miletus Ware, İznik III (Rhodian Ware), Marbled Ware, and Çanakkale Ware (1750–1850). Only a small amount appears to have originated from the Venetian occupation of the site. Import of Italian wares from the 13th century onward belong to two groups of Maiolica Ware that originated from north of Italy: Orvietto and protomaiolica examples from northern Apulia.

Wille presents Byzantine pottery from the so-called Attaleion building complex on Aegina, including amphoras (seventh–ninth centuries), water jugs (eighth–ninth centuries), and cooking pots (10th century). Yona Waksman et al. present the results of chemical analysis on locally produced variants of Zeuxippos Ware from Chersonesos. This is not the first publication to catalogue the local production in Chersonesos (see 384 n. 5), but it contains a much fuller description of the production techniques. The color plates illustrate chemically analyzed groups; they are classified as local (Gr.I), regional (Gr.II), and Novy Svet Ware (Gr.III). Novy Svet Ware, found in high quantity in the shipwreck of Novy Svet, dates to the second half of 13th century and has been suggested to have originated from Nicaea, but chemical analysis disproved this view; a large amount has been found at the excavations of Saraçhane, Istanbul, in early 13th-century contexts. Gabrieli presents the effects of social change on the imports and local production of the Byzantine and Ottoman coarse wares from Cyprus. Levantine cooking pots were imported to Cyprus by the Frankish population during the 12th and 13th centuries, and Cypriot cooking wares were sent to crusader sites in Israel. She also describes the changes in pottery production during the 16th century, after the Ottoman conquest, which included the reintroduction of the fast wheel.

Rosser discusses the chronology of the so-called Salanda Kolones farmhouse at Paphos, which was constructed between 1198 and 1204 and possibly destroyed by an earthquake in 1222. Von Wartburg presents the problems of classification and dating of Cypriot medieval pottery. The destruction was dated by the coin and literary evidence by Megaw, but not with the pottery. She establishes several pottery groups (after A.H.S. Megaw, “Excavations at Saranda Paphos,” RDAC [1971] 117–46] and J. Rosser, “Excavations at Saranda Kolones, Paphos, Cyprus, 1981–1983,” DOP [1985] 81–97) and discusses the chronology and typology of Cypriot Glazed Ware. Köroglu presents five groups of imports to Mersin-Yumuktepe (mid 12th century–first half of the 13th century). Her group of local glazed vessels from the Hatay-Çukurova region were produced in Cilicia (Al-Mina). She illustrates distinct motifs of the production series that indicate influence between Christian and Muslim cultures. Gelichi and Nepoti discuss pottery from the Fatimid/Seljuk/First Crusader period (10th–11th centuries) and the Ottoman period (16th century) at Harim Castle (northern Syria). The pottery from each context is quantified and grouped under chronological rubrics. Aside from imports, a local production group is identified.

Çeken presents excavated kilns and production workshops at Hasankeyf, eastern Anatolia, which was an Islamic tile and ceramic production center (second half of the 14th century–16th century). The evidence is published here for the first time with drawings of the kilns. The overall pattern of finds reflects a continuation of the Seljuk tradition with local styles. Arık catalogues architectural tiles of the Seljuk palace at Kubad-Abad in central Anatolia on the southwest shore of Lake Beyşehir. The palace represents the only example of its type, which was constructed ca. 1235. A 13th-century date is provided also by thermoluminescence analysis of the tiles. Most of the tiles were found in situ, with polychrome underglaze decorations and a rich repertoire of birds, bears, hunting dogs, fantastic animals, double-headed eagles, and the like. Arik discusses another building (the so-called Maiden Castle) where seventh-century floor mosaics were found along with tiles similar in style to those from the Kubad-Abad palace. The finds from these excavations have confirmed the view that Anatolian tiles were manufactured in temporary workshops by itinerant craftsmen.

Moving forward, scholars working on Late Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman pottery in the Mediterranean need to develop a common approach and a common terminology for forms and techniques (as Hayes did in the 1970s for Late Roman pottery). Communication among scholars is essential, since most survey pottery is not published in whole, but only in groups, and most unidentified utilitarian pottery is omitted (although, in Turkey, ethnoarchaeological research is useful since many forms are still produced according to their functions). There is also a need for more publications from well-stratified contexts, not only for the Late Roman and Byzantine periods but also for the Seljuk and Ottoman periods. Information from symposia, such as the one under review here, could also be shared by establishing a Web site to display examples of published pottery.

Billur Tekkök
Department of Visual Arts and Design
Baskent University, Baglıca
06580 Ankara

Book Review of Çanak: Late Antique and Medieval Pottery and Tiles in Mediterranean Archaeological Contexts, edited by Beate Böhlendorf-Arslan, Ali Osman Uysal, and Johanna Witte-Orr

Reviewed by Billur Tekkök

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 114, No. 3 (July 2010)

Published online at

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1143.Tekkok

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