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 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 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.
Nabatean Red Terracotta Juglet
A fine Nabatean juglet moulded from red terracotta decorated with dark pigment. The vessel features a globular body leading to a short narrow neck and a splayed-out rim with a pinched sprout. The strap handle is attached from the shoulder to the rim following a smooth curve. The juglet sits on a discoid small foot. The body, neck and handle are enriched with stylised foliate motifs painted in dark pigment, unfortunately now faded on one side. 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 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.
Provenance: From the collection of a deceased gentleman prior to 1988; thence by descent.
Condition: Fine condition, restoration to the rim and small chip to lower body.