Nabataean pottery and coroplastic production, recovered since the very first organised archaeological excavations of Petra in Jordan, attest the great skills of Nabatean craftsmen. Since the 1st century BC, the Nabateans developed a specific and characteristic style in their pottery production, without any reference to the Hellenistic artistic tradition. Nabatean pottery is characterised by a bright red terracotta, a fine modelling and by a painted decoration, and displays a smooth and matte finishing. Many different shaped vessels have been recovered, including huge jars, pots, flacons for storage of perfumes and ointments, and bowls. Open bowls, such as this beautiful example, were the most painted forms. The hand-painted decoration usually includes dark brown and light red motifs of flowers, leaves and palmettes. Another interesting and most recognisable aspect of Nabatean terracotta wares is the thinness of the vessels’ walls, known as egg-shell vessels. Such vessels, featuring a thickness of 1-3 mm and a metallic hardness, were mostly shallow open bowls, extremely difficult to be potted on the potter’s wheel. With the Roman conquest of the area around 150 AD, Nabatean pottery production started losing its thinness and polychrome decoration, becoming cruder and simpler.
Exquisite Nabataean Egg-Shell Bowl with Decoration
An extremely fine Nabataean bright red terracotta egg-shell bowl, featuring a flaring body with a circular, folded rim. The inside of the dish displays palmettes alternating with triangles and dots. The side of the dish is unadorned. The bright orange colour of the terracotta, as seen on this fine example, is characteristic of Nabataean pottery and it is caused by the high level of iron in the clay. This terracotta dish was probably produced soon after the conquest of the region by the Romans and used in a private context.
Provenance: Ex. S.M collection, London 1948-2000.
Condition: Very fine, earthly encrustation to the outside. the piece has been repaired.