Nabataean Red Terracotta Vessel with Handles


A finely potted Nabataean red terracotta vessel, featuring a short foot, a wide, globular body leading to a cylindrical neck, and a wide, folded rim. Two applied handles extend from the rim to the vessel’s shoulders. Geometric patterns and floral motifs are emphasised in black pigment. 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. The walls of the jug remain quite thin, like a subtle reminder of the tradition of Nabataean eggshell wares. This terracotta was probably produced soon after the conquest of the region by the Romans and used in a private context. Painted decorative motifs tend to disappear from terracotta wares after the Romanisation of the region.


Date: Circa 1st-2nd century AD
Provenance: From an important collection of Near Eastern pottery formed by a gentleman, deceased, before 1988; passed by descent to his family in London and Geneva.
Condition: Extremely fine, with signs of ageing to the surface.

In stock

SKU: FP-210 Category: Tags: ,

The Nabataean tribes first encroached upon Jordan and the surrounding area sometime in the 6th century BC. Thought of originally as a nomadic people they settled in the area, existing as an autonomous kingdom until the 2nd century AD, when they were finally defeated by the Romans. Since the 1stcentury 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 shapes have been recovered, including huge jars, pots, flacons for storage of perfumes and ointments, and bowls, usually the most painted forms. One of the most interesting and most recognisable aspects 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 more crude and simple.


Weight 54.8 g
Dimensions H 5.4 cm


Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item, The Metropolitan Museum, item 67.246.21.

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