Petrographic analysis of ceramics from Murwab, an early Islamic site in Qatar
Keywords:Qatar, Gulf Archaeology, Islamic archaeology, Early Islam, pottery analysis
Murwab is one of the most important early Islamic archaeological villages in the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf, and one of the best-known. Excavated since the 1950s, the site has yielded a complete pottery assemblage which allows the site to be dated from the late eighth to the late ninth century AD.
This paper presents an analysis of the ceramics of Murwab. The analysis is undertaken on a selection of 134 pottery sherds of common ware/‘kitchen’ ware without glaze and encompasses a petrographic study and elemental analysis using wavelength dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (WDXRF). The results of the petrographic analysis and some preliminary thoughts on the chemical analysis are discussed in the text. Twelve ceramic fabrics have been detected in the assemblage studied. The composition of the fabrics allows some preliminary suggestions about provenance to be drawn: none of the fabrics was locally made in Qatar and most of them seem to come from Mesopotamia, eastern Arabia, and southern Iran.
The technology of the ceramics reveals an approach to the manufacture of common wares that is characteristic of the Upper and Central Gulf (corresponding roughly to the Gulf coast west of the Musandam Peninsula, including Khuzestan and Bushehr in Iran). It is not known when this technological approach started, but it does not seem to be documented in the Bronze Age.
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