Sourcing Indian ceramics in Arabia: actual imports and local imitations


  • Anjana Reddy


Indian pottery, imitation wares, south-east Arabia, South Arabia, late pre-Islamic period


Excavations in south and south-east Arabia are progressively revealing the participation of the region in the network of international trade and exchange across the Indian Ocean in the late pre-Islamic period (c. third century BC-c. fourth century AD). The position of the Oman peninsula within this Indian Ocean network is highlighted in part by the Indian pottery repertoire at sites like Mleiha, Ed-Dur, Suhar, Khor Rori, and Qana. This paper examines the evidence from specific Indian vessel forms and fabric based on archaeological data, visual (microscopic) examination, and results from pétrographie analysis of pottery samples. The main objective of this paper is to identify distinguishing features between 'actual imports' and 'local imitations' of Indian ceramics in Arabia based on data from morphological and fabric analysis. This includes first, a discussion on imported wares in Arabia relating to source or production areas in India. Second, evidence is presented for ceramics most likely produced in Arabia by adopting similar techniques as attested in the Indian subcontinent, but using local clays. Alternatively, imports or pottery styles from Egypt or Arabia that were introduced into the subcontinent are discussed, suggesting a hypothetical transfer of technology linked to the movement of people between India and Arabia.





How to Cite

Reddy, A. (2015). Sourcing Indian ceramics in Arabia: actual imports and local imitations. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 45, 253–273. Retrieved from

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