New project on Islamic ceramics from al-Balīd: chronology, technology, tradition, and provenance


  • Agnese Fusaro


Islamic pottery, al-Balīd, Dhofar, local productions, Indian Ocean trade


A new project on the pottery has begun since excavations resumed in 2016 at the site of al-Balīd (Ẓafār), Dhofar in southern Oman. The work concentrates on the Husn, a fortified palace, in this Islamic port. The paper presents the current project on the pottery, exploring methodology, objectives, and preliminary results. The study suggests a dating for the occupational phases of the palace identified so far (fourteenth–eighteenth century AD). The examination of the ceramic material is supported by archaeometric analysis and ethnoarchaeological work on the modern Dhofari production, the latter contributing to a better understanding of the ancient manufacturing process and the transfer of knowledge. This multidisciplinary study allows an exhaustive stylistic, technological, and archaeometric characterization of the pottery, with a special focus on local wares, also proposing or revising their chronological attribution. Moreover, a provenance study is conducted, particularly to establish the origin of the abundant and diverse imports, thus identifying the regions trading with al-Balīd during different periods. Despite previous work on al-Balīd, the study of the ceramic material has never been published properly — the project aims to fill this gap. Furthermore, it is one of the few ongoing research projects on Islamic ceramics of Dhofar and present-day Oman.



How to Cite

Fusaro, A. (2019). New project on Islamic ceramics from al-Balīd: chronology, technology, tradition, and provenance. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 49, 219–146. Retrieved from

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