A ninth- to tenth-century pottery workshop at al-Yamāmah, Central Arabia


  • Fabien Lesguer Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
  • Jérémie Schiettecatte CNRS, UMR 8167 Orient & Méditerranée


Najd, early Islamic period, Islamic archaeology, pottery workshop, pottery production


No area of craft tradition has so far been documented in the Najd. In this respect, the fieldwork conducted by the Saudi-French archaeological mission in the oasis of al-Kharj (Central Arabia, 2011–2017) filled a gap with the discovery and excavation of a pottery workshop at al-Yamāmah — ancient Jaw al-Khaḍārim, capital city of the historical region of al-Yamāmah. To the south-west of the Islamic city, a sounding revealed several pottery kilns in a courtyard connected to a building and several dumps from the ninth–tenth century AD. The content of the dumps made it possible to distinguish between local and regional productions. The stratigraphic sequence, architectural analysis, material study, chemical analysis, and AMS radiocarbon dating all contribute to clarify the pottery production in the Najd during the Abbasid period. Our aim is to present the spatial organization of the pottery workshop and to characterize its production.


Anna A. d’, Desbat A., Garcia D., Schmitt A. & Verhaeghe F. 2011. La céramique: La poterie du néolithique aux temps modernes. Paris: Éditions Errance.

Crassard R. & Hilbert Y.H. 2013. A Nubian Complex site from Central Arabia: Implications for Levallois taxonomy and human dispersals during the Upper Pleistocene. PLoS ONE 8/7: p. e69221. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069221.

Crassard R., Hilbert Y.H., Preusser F., Wulf G. & Schiettecatte J. 2019. Middle Palaeolithic occupations in central Saudi Arabia during MIS 5 and MIS 7: New insights on the origins of the peopling of Arabia. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 11/7: 3101–3120.

al-Ghazzi A. 2010. A comparative study of pottery from a site in the Al-Kharj Valley, Central Arabia. Riyadh: Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiques.

Hilbert Y.H., Crassard R., Rose J.I., Geiling J.M. & Usik V.I. 2016. Technological homogeneity within the Arabian Nubian Complex: Comparing chert and quartzite assemblages from central and southern Arabia. Journal of Lithic Studies 3/2. doi: 10.2218/jls.v3i2.1420.

Mouton M., Siméon P. & Schiettecatte J. 2016. Al-Yamāma (Area N6): The pottery assemblage. Pages 195–240 in J. Schiettecatte & A. al-Ghazzi (eds), Al-Kharj I. Report on two excavation seasons in the Oasis of al-Kharj (2011–2012), Saudi Arabia. Riyadh: Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

Picon M. 1985. Un exemple de pollution aux dimensions kilométriques: La fixation du baryum par les céramiques. ArchéoSciences 9: 27–29.

Priestman S. 2011. Opaque Glazed Wares: The definition, dating and distribution of a key Iraqi ceramic export in the Abbasid period. Iran 49: 89–113.

Reimer P.J., Bard E., Bayliss A., Beck J.W., Blackwell P.G., Ramsey C.B. … van der Plicht J. 2013. IntCal13 and Marine13 radiocarbon age calibration curves 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55/04: 1869–1887.

al-Saud A.S. 1997. Central Arabia during the early Hellenistic period. Riyadh: King Fahd National Library.

Schiettecatte J. 2016. Al-Yamāma, Trench D (Area N6): Pre-Islamic and Islamic settlements. Pages 53–95 in J. Schiettecatte (ed.), Preliminary report. 5th season of the Saudi-French mission in al-Kharj. [Unpublished report.] Available at https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01485741. (Accessed 12 November 2019).

Schiettecatte J. & al-Ghazzi A. (eds). 2016. Al-Kharj I. Report on two excavation seasons in the Oasis of al-Kharj (2011–2012), Saudi Arabia. Riyadh: Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

Schiettecatte J. & al-Ghazzi A. (eds). (in press). Al-Kharj II. Report on two excavation seasons in the Oasis of al-Kharj (2013–2015), Saudi Arabia. Riyadh: Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

Schiettecatte J., Chabrol A. & Fouache É. 2016. Landscape and settlement process in al-Kharj Oasis (Province of Riyadh). Pages 257–280 in M. Luciani (ed.), The archaeology of North Arabia. Oases and landscapes. Proceedings of the International Congress held at the University of Vienna, 5–8 December, 2013. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Schiettecatte J., Darles C. & Siméon P. 2019. A Friday Mosque founded in the late first century A.H. at al-Yamāmah: Origins and evolution of Islamic religious architecture in Najd. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 49: 247–264.

Schiettecatte J., al-Ghazzi A., Chabrol A., Fortin G. & Fouache E. 2012. Le peuplement protohistorique et historique de l’oasis d’al-Kharj (province de Riyad, Arabie Saoudite). Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions & Belles-Lettres 156/III (Jul–Oct.): 1365–1399.

Schiettecatte J., al-Ghazzi A., Charloux G., Crassard R., Hilbert Y.H., Monchot H. ... Siméon P. 2013. The oasis of al-Kharj through time: First results of archaeological fieldwork in the province of Riyadh (Saudi Arabia). Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 43: 285–308.

Schmitt A., Cantin N. & Thirion-Merle V. 2009. De la géochimie des productions provençales à pâte calcaire au référentiel régional. Pages 133–156 in M. Pasqualini (ed.), Les céramiques communes d’Italie et de Narbonnaise: Structures de production, typologies et contextes inédits, IIe s. av. J.-C.–IIIe s. apr. J.-C. Naples: Centre Jean Bérard.



How to Cite

Lesguer, F., & Schiettecatte, J. (2020). A ninth- to tenth-century pottery workshop at al-Yamāmah, Central Arabia. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 50(1), 203–224. Retrieved from http://archaeopresspublishing.com/ojs/index.php/PSAS/article/view/295

Most read articles by the same author(s)

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.