Re-Examination of Predynastic Pottery from Minshat Abu Omar (Nile Delta, Egypt)
X-Ray Studies on Forming Techniques: Preliminary Remarks
Keywords:Minshat Abu Omar, pottery, Predynastic Period, X-radiography
A type of electromagnetic radiation known as X-rays has been known in ceramic research since the 1930s. X-radiography is applied mainly to investigate clay fabric and to identify manufacturing details. In clay fabric identification, the method could be used to determine size, proportions, type and even general mineralogy of inclusions or tempers. Moreover, it can be successfully applied to identify, verify or better understand primary forming techniques as well. The purpose of this paper is to investigate Egyptian Predynastic pottery production by means of X-radiography in order to determine the primary forming techniques used for making four small ceramic vessels: bag-shaped jars and lemon-shaped jar from the cemetery at Minshat Abu Omar in the Eastern Nile Delta. The vessels are now in the collection of the Poznań Archaeological Museum and X-radiography was chosen as the study method because of its non-destructive nature allowing to penetrate the walls of vessels from the museum collection. Two primary forming techniques (pinching and coil-building) were identified during the analysis. The studied vessels were made of two segments by hand. Pinching was used to build the belly, while the shoulder, neck and rim were made by coiling. The application of two different forming techniques as well as the effort invested in joining coils and vessel segments imply that their makers were fairly skilled in their craft. The vessels reveal these ‘secrets of the trade’ only when exposed to X-rays.
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