Late-second-millennium soft-stone vessels revisited: defining a primary marker for an Iron Age I horizon in southeast Arabia
Keywords:soft-stone vessels (softstone vessels/chlorite vessels/steatite vessels/soapstone vessels), late second millennium BC, Iron Age I period, Early Iron Age, southeast Arabia
In our pursuit to identify an Iron Age I soft-stone assemblage, we physically handled and examined about 350 vessels (including lids) from various sites in Raʾs al-Khaimah and Oman. Through a process of elimination, we isolated a distinct set of vessels from collective tombs that ceased being used after the Iron Age I period (c.1300–1000 BC). Subsequent systematic examination of available data — published and unpublished — revealed a sizeable quantity of related materials throughout southeast Arabia. So far, nearly 800 individual vessels have been identified from 39 sites, including ten settlements. A common leitmotif characterizes this assemblage and, together with other secondary characteristics, sets it apart vis-à-vis “classic” Iron Age II vessels. The corpus represents two distinct stylistic groups that appear to be chronologically disparate, provisionally labelled “early” and “late”. Although based on limited information, the two groups display a different distribution that seems to reflect important dynamics at play during the Iron Age I period. Several inferences can be drawn from them that provide a different perspective than the one derived from the distribution of contemporaneous hand-made pottery, which is very restricted. Our research puts soft-stone vessels at the forefront of the discussion on the nature and extent of the Iron Age I horizon in southeast Arabia by providing a fresh perspective and a much-needed impetus.
Eric Olijdam & Christian Velde, 2023, Late-second-millennium soft-stone vessels revisited: defining a primary marker for an Iron Age I horizon in southeast Arabia, Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 51
How to Cite
Archaeopress Publishing, Oxford, UK