CHEMICAL AND MINERALOGICAL STUDY OF NABATAEAN PAINTED POTTERY FROM PETRA, JORDAN

Firas Alawneh, Fadi Bala'awi, Firas Alawneh
Mediterranean Arhaeology and Archaeometry   unpublished
Nabataean pottery is distinguished by the thinness of its walls, which were sometimes only 1.5 mm thick. It was a pinkish/red color, often decorated by hand with dark brown flower and leaf designs. The typical (egg-shell) shallow open bowls productions were very difficult to make on the potter's wheel, demonstrating how skilled their craftsmen were. Nabataean painted pottery from Petra Jordan were examined in order to determine the mineralogical characteristics of the raw pigment materials used
more » ... ment materials used for their production and to elucidate the ceramic manufacturing technologies employed. Optical microscopy, X-ray diffraction analysis (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM-EDS) were the analytical techniques used. The initial examination of the ceramic shreds in optical microscopy showed all samples to be identical in their paint and paste textures. The mineralogical composition of the paste (unpainted outer surface) is typical of a clay poor in calcium and fired at moderate-high temperature in an oxidizing atmosphere. The paste is composed of quartz, plagioclase, potassium feldspar, hematite, dolomite, and calcite. The latter two phases might be attributed to post-depositional contamination, since examination with both optical and scanning electron microscopes show fine carbonate particles deposited in the pores and cracks of the shred. The paint on the inner surface of the vessel, on the other hand is composed of hematite as a major phase with only some quartz and plagioclase.
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