Pottery from biblical times, discovered on archaeological excavations in the Holy Land for sale from Israel. Read More...
In ancient times, pottery was highly utilitarian and functioned as tableware, cookware, for storage, and even for lighting. It is little wonder, then, that archaeologists find more pottery than any other artifact. Pottery-making was invented as early as the Neolithic era, originally in the form of rough, handmade vessels. Over time, the pottery wheel was invented, allowing potters to mass-produce smooth, uniform vessels. Pottery generally trended toward becoming thinner, smoother, and stronger over time, but development occurred earlier in some cultures than others.
Bronze Age Pottery: Pottery from the Bronze Age belonging to Canaanite populations was generally finely made, although not to the standard of later pottery. Characteristics include high, flaring rims on jars, flat-bottomed cooking pots, and both molded and incised decorations. In the Late Bronze Age, imported pottery from Cyprus found its way into the Holy Land. This pottery featured decorations painted in two colors. Both original imported pottery and locally made imitations exist.
Iron Age Pottery: During the Iron Age, two main people groups inhabited the Holy Land: The Israelites and the Philistines. Early Israelite pottery tended to be course, heavy, and poorly made. Storage jars with thickened rims are characteristic of this period, and most vessels were simple and undecorated. Later in the Iron Age, Israelite pottery became much finer, and many examples feature glossy red burnishing. Philistine pottery contrasted strongly with that of the Israelites and featured elaborate paintings in one or two colors. Many examples exist of fanciful and elaborate forms, with some taking the shape of animals.
Greek Pottery: With Alexander the Great’s conquest of the known world, Greek culture became widespread. In the Holy Land, the Hasmonaeans struggled to retain their Israelite culture and religion. Pottery in the Holy Land from this period was finer and smoother than that of previous periods, with forms that were reminiscent of those from the Bronze Age. In the broader Greek empire, pottery was highly decorated with black and red figures depicting action-packed scenes from their mythology.
Roman Pottery: The Roman Era was a time of great advancement, and this progress is reflected in the pottery. At this time, the pottery became much thinner, smoother, and stronger. In the Holy Land, clear cultural distinctions appeared between Jewish pottery and that of the Romans. The Jewish pottery was generally plain and undecorated, although many vessels featured ribbing to increase the strength of the vessels. The pottery of the Romans, on the other hand, was highly decorated. One type, eastern terra sigillata ware, was polished red and featured impressed designs. Oil lamps, made by pressing clay into a mold, often featured scenes depicting Roman gods or other characters.
Although the style and quality of pottery changed throughout history and across cultures, many vessel types remained constant. These include bowls, craters, cooking pots, storage jars, jugs, juglets, and oil lamps.
Bowls: Bowls represent the most common type of tableware throughout the history of the Holy Land. Many are just large enough to contain one serving of food. They are often wide and shallow, perhaps designed to allow hot food to cool evenly. And (Elisha)said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it” (2 Kings 2:20).
Craters: Craters likely represent the serving dishes of the ancient world, although they may have functioned in the storage of food, as well. They are typically widest at their midpoint, and sometimes they feature handles. (Jesus) answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray me” (Matthew 26:23).
Cooking Pots: Cooking pots functioned in food preparation. They would have been set directly in the fire, and many cooking pots remain blacked on the bottom from contact with the flame. In the Middle Bronze Age, most cooking pots featured flat bottoms and straight sides, but beginning in the Late Bronze Age, a globular shape became popular. This shape continued through the Roman period, although the neck became smaller over time and handles appeared. So Gideon…put the broth in a pot; and he brought (it) out to (the Angel of God) under the terebinth tree and presented (it) (Judges 6:19).
Storage Jars: Storage jars provided a convenient way of storing commodities such as grains and liquids. Large jars, known as pithoi, could be over five feet tall, and were often permanent fixtures in ancient homes. Smaller jars were more portable. Storage jars feature small necks and often exhibit two or four handles. Jars from the Bronze and Iron Ages often taper to a rounded point at the base, while jars from later periods typically feature an elongated globular shape. Then (Elijah) looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water (1 Kings 19:6).
Jugs: Jugs are smaller than jars. They functioned as serving dishes, and usually feature a handle on one side. This, along with a pinched rim noticeable on some jugs, made it easy to pour liquids. So David took the spear and the jug of water by Saul’s head (1 Samuel 26:12).
Juglets: Juglets are the miniature version of jugs. Bronze Age juglets tend to be elongated and pointed on the bottom, but by the Iron Age the shape became more globular, a shape that continued, with some variation, through the Roman era. Some juglets featured pinched rims for ease of pouring. Then take the vial of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, “Thus says the Lord, I have anointed you king over Israel” (2 Kings 9:3).
Zak’s Antiquities shop established in 1964 is located on the Christian Quarter road of the Old City in Jerusalem.