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Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 143, 2 (2011), 87105

Alexander Zukerman and David Ben-Shlomo
The article examines an Iron Age II BC ceramic form, the mortarium bowl, which is usually acknowledged as an imported type, but is not yet fully integrated into the study of east Mediterranean trade during this period. Several mortaria are examined by Thin Section Petrographic Analysis, and the previous studies of Iron Age II and Persian period mortaria are reviewed in light of its results. It is argued that Cyprus was the main production centre of mortaria imported to the southern Levant and discusses the significance of these vessels within the framework of late Iron Age eastern Mediterranean international trade. Keywords: Mortaria, Thin Section Petrographic Analysis; Iron Age ceramics; Eastern Mediterranean trade; Cyprus; Southern Levant 1. introduction Cypriote and Greek contacts with the southern Levant during the Iron Age IIBC period (8th7th centuries BCE) recently became a subject of renewed interest as a result of excavations at the sites of Ashkelon, Ekron, Mezad Hashavyahu, Dor, Kabri and others. Most of these sites not only yielded numerous Cypriote and Greek finds, but also provided a rare but necessary condition for a systematic and well-based study of inter-cultural connections, namely well-stratified and closely dated archaeological contexts. The attempts to assess the significance of the Cypriote and Greek objects for the history of the Iron Age II southern Levant were connected with two research problems: their chronological value (Waldbaum and Magness 1997), and the identity of their users (Wenning 1991; Niemeier 2001; 2002; Waldbaum 1994; 1997; 2002a; 2002b; Fantalkin 2006). Although most of these studies dealt with fine wares, other pottery classes were not overlooked. Thus, Greek cooking pots (chytrai) received close attention, as did Greek trade amphorae of various types. Yet, one quite common ceramic type the mortaria (or heavy bowls) was not integrated into this body of research (for one of the rare attempts to do so, see Salles 1985). Most scholars dealing with the late Iron Age material culture are, however, quite aware of its foreign origin (see below). In the southern Levant, mortaria emerged in the 8th century BCE, and continued, with morphological variations, through the early Hellenistic period.1 In contrast to other Iron Age II imports to the region, the mortarium is a relatively frequent vessel type (Fig. 1 and Table 1). It is attested even at small sites far removed from the Mediterranean coast, such as Jericho, En-Gedi, Tel Masos, and Aroer. This wide distribution and also the coarse ware of these vessels perhaps explain why in numerous recent publications of late Iron Age ceramics from Israel, mortaria are discussed as part of the local pottery assemblage, regardless of their fabric (see below). This misconception led to the situation in which a foreign item that was quite widespread, was seldom discussed, and as such, its significance was never assessed. This study intends to re-examine the existing evidence of
Address correspondence to Alexander Zukerman, Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem, Israel, email: sashat9@yahoo.com Palestine Exploration Fund 2011 doi: 10.1179/003103211X12971861557197


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Fig. 1. Map showing the location of the sites mentioned in the text (Horvat Rogem and Kadesh Barnea are not indicated).

mortaria as well as to add some new primary data concerning their provenance, and to integrate this vessel type into the picture of inter-cultural contacts of Philistia, Judah, and neighbouring regions during the 8th7th centuries BCE. 2. function, regional distribution, and dating The typical Iron Age mortarium has a straight everted wall, a folded rim and a flat or concave base (Fig. 2).2 The rim is always externally thickened, but the details of its profile can vary: some are oval, while others are more elongated and triangular. The exterior surface of these vessels has prominent horizontal marks of wheel-finishing, while the interior is very smooth (e.g. Yezerski 2007, 90). According to Blakely and Bennet, who examined the Persian period examples of this vessel type from Tell el-Hesi, mortaria were mould-made (1989, 196). Their fabric is very gritty and well-fired. Most of these vessels have very thick walls (1.52.5 cm), but some examples have thinner walls (Fantalkin 2001, 8082). The versions with thicker walls were most probably utilised for grinding, while those with thinner walls were perhaps used for serving (Sapin 1998). The majority of thick-walled mortaria have abraded interiors (Fig. 2: 1, 3; see also Bennett and Blakely 1989, 196, 201; Sapin 1998; Villing 2006, 3437), supporting their use for grinding.3 According to Bennett and Blakely (1989, 201202), the coarse inclusions unique to mortaria, created a rough surface that facilitated grinding; they also list numerous examples of basalt upper grinding stones found in association with mortaria.4 It is possible therefore that the extraordinary longevity of this imported vessel type stems from their functionality rather than from cultural, political, or other reasons.5 Not surprisingly, late Iron Age mortaria are found in both domestic and industrial contexts (e.g. at Tel Batash and En-Gedi; see also Sapin 1998, 93), as is the case of numerous Persian period examples.6

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Table 1. Site Arad Aroer Ashdod Iron Age II mortaria from the southern Levant (sites arranged alphabetically). Stratum VI II VIIIVI Date (century) 7th 7thearly 6th 8th7th Reference


Ashkelon Batash, Tel Beirut Dan Dor Ekron Elissa shipwreck En-Gedi Farah (North), Tell elGezer Hesi, Tell elHorvat Rosh Zayit Horvat Rogem Jericho Kabri Keisan, Tell Khirbet Abu Tuwein Lachish Malhata, Tel Masos, Tel Megiddo Mezad Hashavyahu Nasbeh, Tell enQasile, Tell Qubur el-Walaydah Saidiyeh, Tell esSarepta Sera, Tel Tyre Yoqneam

Grid 50 Phase 7 II The level of abandonment I Area A, Phase 9 IB V VIIe VA VI II Stage XXIIIXXIV in Trench II E2 54 II? IIIII Cistern 304 VII Field II, Stratum 1 IV 10 IV III XIIXI

7th 7th late 8th 7th 7th 7th 8th early 6th 7th 7th 7th6th 8th 7thearly 6th 7th 7th 8th-7th 7thearly 6th 7thearly 6th (intrusive?) 7thearly 6th 7th 7th 7th 7th6th 7th late 7th 7th 7th (?) late 7th 8th 8th7th

Singer-Avitz 2002, fig. 48: 4 Biran and Cohen 1981, fig. 6:1 Dothan and Freedman 1967, figs. 40: 1011; 41:11; Dothan 1971, figs. 45: 15; 50: 1; 53: 8; 59: 11; Dothan and Porath 1982, fig. 19: 14; Ben-Shlomo 2005, fig. 3.98: 20 Master 2003: fig. 7: 23 Mazar and Panitz-Cohen 2001, 20, 51, table 7 (55 examples) Badre 2009, fig. 37: 8 Pakman 1992, fig. 4: 12 Gilboa 1995, fig. 1.3: 910 Gitin 1997, fig. 12: 21 Ballard et al. 2002, fig. 9: 3 Yezerski 2007, pl. 3: 2627 Chambon 1984, pl. 54: 10 Gitin 1990, pl. 28: 910 Bennett and Blakely 1989, 198 Gal and Alexandre 2000, fig. VII.11: 19 Cohen and Cohen-Amin 2004, fig. 99:6 Kenyon and Holland 1983, fig. 74:1 Lehmann 2002, 196, fig. 5.78: 1114 (large numbers) Briend and Humbert 1980, pls. 28: 1; 31: 3-7; 45: 5; Sapin 1998 Mazar 1982, fig. 13: 14 Tufnell 1953, 279280 Kochavi 1970, 24 Fritz and Kempinski 1983, pl. 163: 1 Lamon and Shipton 1939, pl. 23: 1317 Fantalkin 2001, table 16, fig. 29: 59 (20 examples) Wampler 1941, fig. 18: 4 Mazar 1985, figs. 56: 56; 58: 34 Lehmann et al. 2009, fig. 14: 56 Pritchard 1985, fig. 15: 9 Pritchard 1975, fig. 19: 14 Oren 1993, 1334 Bikai 1978, pl. IX: 19 Zarzecki-Peleg et al. 2005, fig. II.5: 12 (6 examples)


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Fig. 2. Iron Age II BC mortaria. 1. from Ashdod, after Ben-Shlomo 2005, fig. 3.98: 20; 2. from Tell Keisan, after Briend and Humbert 1980, pl. 31: 5; 3. from Ekron, after Gitin 1997, fig. 12: 21; 4. from Horvat Rosh Zayit, after Gal and Alexandre 2000, fig. VII.11: 19.

The earliest mortaria appeared at the end of the 8th century BCE. In the southern Levant, these early mortaria can be found at Beirut (Badre 2007, fig. 37: 8), Tyre Stratum III (Bikai 1978, pl. IX: 19), Tell Keisan (Briend and Humbert 1980, pl. 45: 5), Horvat Rosh Zayit (Gal and Alexandre 2000, fig. VII.11: 19), Yoqneam (Zarzecki-Peleg et al. 2005, 247), Ashdod Stratum VIII (Dothan 1971, figs 45: 15; 50: 1),7 and the Phoenician shipwreck of Elissa found off the Ashkelon/Gaza Strip coast (Ballard et al. 2002, fig. 9: 3). Mortaria become more numerous in the 7thearly 6th centuries BCE, and are found along the southern Phoenician coast, as well as in the Galilee, Jezreel Valley, Central Hill Country, central and southern Coastal Plain, Shephelah, northern Negev, and Transjordan (Fig. 1 and Table 1).8 The earliest mortaria known from the northern Levant come from problematic contexts. One possibly intrusive mortarium fragment comes from Tell Arqa Level 10, dated to the 8thearly 7th centuries BCE, and several others were found in poorly stratified contexts of Level 9 (7th5th/4th centuries, see Thalmann 1978, 7980, 89, fig. 47:1213). An unknown number of mortaria was found in Al Mina Level 5 (unpublished, mentioned in Lehmann 1996, 391, Form 165), dated to c. 650580 BCE (Lehmanns Assemblage 4, see also Boardman 1999, 160).9 Although several Iron Age Syrian sites are known archaeologically, mortaria appear to be rare in this region, at least before the Persian period.10 The date of the earliest mortaria from south-eastern Anatolia (Tarsus and Mersin) is problematic. In the publication of the material from Tarsus, locally-produced and imported mortaria are given a chronological range between the 11th and 6th centuries (Hanfmann 1963, 90). Villing (2006, 37 and n. 109) understandably considered this dating of the Tarsus mortaria puzzling (see also Stern 1982, 97). One mortarium was found in Mersin Level IV, dated by the excavators to the 8th century (Barnett 1940, 9899, 107, pl. 52: 1). This chronology of the earliest mortaria from Tarsus and Mersin is frequently cited in the literature (e.g. Salles 1985, 204; Ballard et al. 2002, 162; Artzy and Lyon 2003, 187). However, Iron Age levels at both sites were badly disturbed (Barnett 1940, 99; Hanfmann 1963,

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1819), and the chronological homogeneity of their ceramic assemblages must be questioned. In addition, their suggested absolute dates reflect the state of knowledge some 5070 years ago. Due to these problems, the mortaria from Tarsus and Mersin do not contribute much to the dating of the earliest appearance of this vessel type in the eastern Mediterranean.11 The situation in Cyprus is somewhat clearer. The earliest significant appearance of mortaria on the island (41 examples) is attested in Salamis Tomb 79 (Karageorghis 1973, 116) and attributed to the Cypro-Archaic I period. In the initial publication, Karageorghis (1973, 121) suggested the absolute date of c. 700 BCE for this assemblage, but since the beginning of the Cypro-Archaic I is now usually dated to about the middle of the 8th century (following Coldstream 1979, 266267, see also Reyes 1994, xviii), a somewhat earlier date is possible as well. Mortaria continued to appear on the island in large numbers during the Cypro-Archaic and Cypro-Classical periods, until c. 300 BCE (see references in Villing 2006, 44, notes 112114). In Crete, in Corinth, and in the eastern Aegean (e.g. Miletos, Ephesos, Xanthos, Klazomenai, Rhodes and Samos), mortaria are known from the 7th century onwards (Villing 2006, 3738, with references). Significantly, the quantity of East Greek fine and coarse wares and of Corinthian pottery in the southern Levant (Waldbaum 1994, 5861) seems to be much more limited than that of mortaria, and the same may be said for Egypt (Villing 2006, 37). According to what is presently known, it can be concluded that the earliest mortaria came from Israel, southern and central Lebanon, and Cyprus and are dated to the 8th century BCE. During the following century, they are attested in numerous regions throughout the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, and they became even more popular during the subsequent 6th4th centuries. The typological derivation of mortaria is unclear. Gal and Alexandre (2000, 192) suggested that these large bowls with straight everted walls developed out of a type of small flat-based bowl with a similar shape. Such bowls are well-known in the southern Levant during the Iron Age II period (e.g. Crowfoot et al. 1957, fig. 10: 13; Gal and Alexandre 2000, fig. VI.11: 2425). However, as will be demonstrated below, the vast majority of mortaria from this period are imported, and the local derivation of this ceramic type is improbable. Mortaria can possibly derive from straight-sided Cypriote bowls as well (e.g. Karageorghis 1999, pls. 114: 5501; 120: 2476; 127: 2754), but the scarcity of well-published Cypro-Archaic I-II stratified ceramic sequences preclude a firm conclusion (cf. Salles 1985, 74). It should be additionally noted that in his seminal study of first millennium BCE Cyprus, Gjerstad regarded mortaria as a local Cypriote ceramic type (Plain White V according to his terminology, see Gjerstad 1948, 88), and this assessment is still unchanged (e.g. Karageorghis 2003, 104).12 3. provenance There are three types of evidence for the origin of mortaria found in the southern Levant: the chronology of their appearance in various regions, their regional distribution, and the results of provenance studies. The above discussion of the first two types indicates that outside of the southern Levant, the earliest examples of these vessels, dating to the 8th century BCE are known from Cyprus, and during the 7th century BCE mortaria are also attested in the Aegean region and perhaps in Cilicia. In the northern Levant mortaria seem to be rare before the Persian period, and their emergence in that region probably occurred during the 7th century BCE. Cyprus thus emerges as the strongest candidate for the exporter of this vessel type. What follows is the examination of this assumption in light of the third type of evidence the provenance studies.

3.1 Previous Studies

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At least eight Iron Age mortaria from Ashkelon, Mezad Hashavyahu, and Kabri were examined by Thin Section Petrographic Analysis (TSPA). Four vessels from late 7th century Ashkelon were analyzed by Master (2001, 72, 110111, 114; 2003, 55). Two examples are made of a clay rich in ophiolitic minerals that represents the combination of limestones and ultramafic rocks, characteristic of both the areas surrounding the Troodos formation in Cyprus and coastal northern Lebanon and Syria (Master 2001, 134).13 The Iron Age II mortaria from Mezad Hashavyahu are made of the same raw material, and, according to Fantalkin (2001, 80), probably come from Cyprus. The ware of the only examined Iron Age II mortarium from Kabri is similarly described (Goren and Cohen-Weinberger 2002, table 15.1: 44). Two additional examples from Ashkelon are made of other (non-ophiolitic) types of fabric: one was classified as a non-local unidentified fabric (Master 2001, 137138), while another, an Aegean mortaria, was classified as a highly micaceous clay fabric of a certain Ionian provenance (Master 2001, 72, 142). The TSPA examination of a large number of Persian-period mortaria by Gorzalczany revealed that their raw material belongs to the ophiolitic petrographic group (Gorzalczany 1999, 186189, table 4.10; 2003, 121124; 2006a, 60, n. 5; 2006b, 42*).14 According to him, although ophiolitic soils are characteristic of the eastern Aegean, Cyprus, southeastern Turkey, and north-western Syria, the closest comparisons to the specific mineralogical features of the Perisan-period mortaria come from the Troodos Mountains in Cyprus. A recent TSPA study of a number of flat-based mortaria from Miletos and Xanthos in Asia Minor, Al Mina in northern Syria, and Naukratis in Egypt (Villing 2006, 70; Spataro and Villing 2009, 9498), with fabric rich in igneous or ophiolitic-related minerals, established their petrographic and chemical similarity to Cypriote-style terracotta figurines as well as a basket-handled amphora. However, other mortaria from Miletos, Naukratis, and possibly also from Al Mina, made of different (non-ophiolitic) clay types, were apparently produced locally at these sites. Unfortunately, the date of the mortaria from Al Mina that were examined in these studies is unknown. This makes it difficult to assess them on the crucial question of the existence of production centers of these vessels in the Iron Age II northern Syria. At this point, a note on the relationship between the geographical distribution of ophiolitic soils and that of mortaria should be made. The clay rich in igneous or ophioliticrelated minerals can derive from soils that exist in both central and southern Cyprus (the Troodos Mountains), on the north Syrian coast, as well as on several islands in the eastern Aegean (Whitechurch et al. 1984; Master 2001, 134; Gorzalczany 2003, 4041; Goren, et al. 2004, 5760). However, while ophiolitic soils are present also north of Latakia in Syria (Brew et al. 2001), hardly any 8th7th century mortaria are known from that region and, therefore, this provenance for the southern Levantine mortaria is much less probable. In certain sites in western Turkey (such as Miletos), as well as, perhaps, in Mersin and Tarsus in Cilicia, mortaria do appear during the 7th century (see above), yet there are no ophiolitic outcrops in the near vicinity of the relevant sites; moreover, these vessels were never subjected to provenance analysis, and it would appear that most (if not all) of them are imported (cf. Hanfmann 1963, 123, 138). Cyprus is the only ophiolitic region that produced clear evidence for relatively large quantities of mortaria from the 8th century onwards, as mentioned above. It should additionally be noted that the fabric of the Iron Age mortaria found in the southern Levant does not fit any clay that derives from soils in Israel, Lebanon, or on the southern Syrian coast, as clays in these regions derive from Neogene formations (see, e.g. Elliott 1955; Bettles 2003, 139148; Gorzalczany 2003, 3335). In other words, previous petrographic studies suggest

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that the late Iron Age mortaria from the southern Levant were not imported from Phoenicia or from the eastern Aegean islands and that Cyprus is the most probable source of these vessels.15 Three mortaria bowls from the Persian period Maagan Mikhael shipwreck were examined by Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA) and shown to be of Cypriote manufacture (Yellin and Artzy 2004, 223227), most probably from its southern coast (region of Amathus, see Artzy and Lyon 2003, 197).16 Most of the mortaria from Naukratis mentioned above, come from Cyprus (but used by Greeks), and none are East Greek (Villing 2006, 3940; Spataro and Villing 2009).17 In spite of the results which strongly suggest Cyprus as the main producer of the Iron Age II mortaria, some scholars prefer other possibilities. For example, according to Yezerski (2007, 90), these vessels come from the eastern Aegean islands or from western Anatolia, while in the opinion of Stern (1982, 9698; 1995, 53) and Waldbaum (2002a, 58), the Iron Age mortaria are East Greek imports. In his publication of Mezad Hashavyahu, Fantalkin (2001, 7980), with reservations, denoted mortaria as East Greek heavy bowls (contra Niemeier 2002, 330) and, in the synthetic summary of his study of the material from Ashkelon, Master (2003, 55) attributed mortaria to the North Syrian/Cypriote group of imports. In other publications, mortaria are discussed as an integral part of the local ceramic assemblage (e.g. Mazar and Panitz Cohen 2001, 51; Yezerski 2007, 90).18 We cannot but agree with Villing (2006, 39), who summarised the results of provenance studies of mortaria in the entire Mediterranean basin as follows: Cyprus thus presents itself as a highly likely major production centre for mortaria at least from the 7th century BCE onwards. The results of previous provenance studies do not support the north Syrian or east Anatolian origin for these vessels, although, in this stage of research, the existence of production centres of mortaria in these regions during the late Iron Age II cannot be completely ruled out. As far as Phoenicia is concerned, that region can safely be dismissed as the source of mortaria. As in the case of Cypriote Black-on-Red wares, if the term Cypro-Phoenician is at all applicable to mortaria (cf. Villing 2006, 37), it should be used with reservation, since these vessels did not originate from Phoenicia, but, at most, were distributed by traders from the Phoenician centers. The trade network responsible for that is discussed below. 3.2 TSPA in this Study In order to further examine the origin of the Iron Age mortaria from the southern Levant, ten vessels were analyzed by TSPA (see Table 2).19 The single samples from Horvat Rosh Zayit and Ashdod are dated to the 8th century, while the six samples from Ekron and the two from Gezer date to the 7th century BCE. Most of the mortaria sampled (all the samples from Ekron, Ashdod, and Horvat Rosh Zayit) are made of a dark to opaque matrix of a milky texture (Fig. 3), indicating a high firing temperature of a calcareous clay. Because of the character of the matrix, it is often difficult to fully identify various calcareous inclusions in the clay. Therefore, their assignment to a specific provenance is more complicated. However, the clay in these samples seems to be derived from an ophiolitic clay source, as evidenced mostly by reddish coarse silt-sand sized grains (e.g. Fig. 3) which consist of secondary products derived from the serpentinization process (Wicks and Whittaker 1977).20 Many ferruginous inclusions, and few feldspar, mica and rare worn basalt fragments are also present, as well as several larger olivine fragments and silty to sand-sized quartz inclusions (about 510% of slide area). One sample (MQ66, Fig. 4) has a more reddish matrix and a significant mica population, possibly indicating a somewhat different source.21 The mortarium bowl from Horvat Rosh Zayit is also made of an ophiolitic type of clay, but it is even richer in larger sand-sized olivine inclusions (Fig. 5), indicating a source rich in igneous rocks.

Sample MQ61 MQ62 MQ63 MQ64 MQ65 MQ66 GZ1 GZ2 Ash1 RZ1 Site Ekron Ekron Ekron Ekron Ekron Ekron Gezer Gezer Ashdod Horvat Rosh Zayit

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Table 2. Details Reg. no. IIISE.13.77/10, Stratum IB Reg. no. IIINE.7.19.23, Stratum IA Reg. no. IIINE.7.24.17, Stratum IA Reg. no. IIINE.7.24.21, Stratum IA Reg. no. INW.3.13/4, unstratified Reg. no. IVNW.47.7/4, Stratum I Reg. no. VII.34.129/7, Stratum VA; see Gitin 1990, pl. 28: 9 Reg. no. VII.44.178/9, Stratum VA; see Gitin 1990, pl. 28: 10 Reg. no. 4692/1, Stratum VIIIb Locus 3060, Stratum III Mortaria analyzed by TSPA in this study. Date (century) 7th Late 7th Late 7th Late 7th 7th (?) 7th 7thearly 6th 7thearly 6th 8th 8th Petrographic analysis Ophiolithic soil Ophiolithic soil Ophiolithic soil Ophiolithic soil Ophiolithic soil Ophiolithic soil (reddish) Brown soil Brown soil Ophiolithic soil Ophiolithic soil (high olivine) Suggested provenance Cyprus Cyprus Cyprus Cyprus Cyprus Probably Cyprus Israel, Coastal Plain Israel, Coastal Plain Cyprus Cyprus

Fig. 3.

Thin sections of mortaria from Ekron: sample MQ62, PL horizontal field width 6.8 mm, note serpentinized grains in center left and lower right.

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Fig. 4.

Thin sections of mortaria from Ekron: sample MQ66, PL horizontal field width 1.7 mm.

Fig. 5.

Thin section of a mortarium from Horvat Rosh Zayit (sample RZ1, PL horizontal field width 1.7 mm; note olivine on lower right corner).


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The fabric of the mortaria sampled from Ekron, Ashdod, and Horvat Rosh Zayit clearly does not represent clays that are local to the southern Levant. Ophiolitic sources rich in serpentinised grains can be traced to the Troodos Ophiolite Formation in central Cyprus, or to various alluvial soils found in western and southern Cyprus that are derived from this formation (for example, from the large outcrops about 10 km north and northwest of Amathus; see Constantinou 1995). It should be noted that these fabrics are somewhat different than the above-mentioned Category 09 to which most of the Ashkelon mortaria belong (Master 2001, 134). Four mortaria bowls from Amathus are also somewhat different and are made of an ophiolitic soil rich in rounded coarse sand-sized calcareous inclusions (Fig. 6).22 It is possible that the source of thse clays is the Pakhna formation, located just to the east and northwest of Amathus (Constantinou 1995; see also Gorzalczany 2003, 40, photo 11). Due to this mineralogical and technological heterogeneity among the mortaria made of ophiolitic clays, it is possible that the various ophiolitic-rich fabrics, represented by the mortaria from Ashkelon, Ekron, Ashdod, Horvat Rosh Zayit, and Amathus, derive from several locations in southern Cyprus, or possibly from other locations in Cyprus where the Pakhna and ophiolitic outcrops are located (see Goren, et al. 2004, 5760). The geology of the Amathus region fits several of the clays from which the mortaria are made, and thus it might be a good candidate for an important production area of these vessels. In contrast to the samples from Ekron, Ashdod, and Horvat Rosh Zayit, the two samples from late Iron Age II Gezer are made of a clay fabric rich in silty angular quartz

Fig. 6.

Thin section of a mortarium from Amathus, Cyprus (XPL, horizontal field width 6.8 mm).

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Fig. 7.

Thin section of mortarium vessel from Gezer (sample GZ2, XPL, horizontal field width 1.7 mm).

and some limestone sand-sized fragments with no ophiolitic-related minerals (Fig. 7). This clay is probably derived from brown soil common in the central and southern Coastal Plain and in parts of the Shephelah (e.g. Wieder and Gvirtzman 1999, 233234). Thus, the two samples from Gezer were locally made in the southern Levant. These vessels have a somewhat more reddish-brown fabric than the other mortaria bowls examined here, but otherwise they do not differ in their appearance from the rest of the samples. It is, therefore, possible that a number of other mortaria from the Iron Age sites in the southern Levant were locally made as well.23 Yet, based on the cumulative evidence of provenance studies mentioned above, it can be safely stated that most of the Iron Age mortaria were made of non-local clays. 4. discussion and conclusions The significance of the Iron Age mortaria from the southern Levant has almost never been explicitly discussed. The starting point of the following discussion is the premise that during the Iron Age IIBC most of these vessels were imported (primarily from Cyprus) and that the rest were made locally. The appearance of relatively large quantities of imported mortaria in the southern Levant, and their wide regional distribution (Fig. 1), is unique for the entire Bronze and Iron Ages. This is because these objects are related to everyday domestic activity of grinding grain, in contrast to containers and tablewares that represent the much more common functional classes of imported pottery. The only other imported vessels used for food preparation are several North Syrian cooking pots from Ashkelon (Master 2003, 55, fig. 7:4) and early Archaic Greek cooking jugs (chytrae) from Ashkelon, Mesad Hashavyahu, Tel Batash, and


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Kabri (Waldbaum and Magness 1997, 3132; Waldbaum 2002b). All these cooking pots date to the 7th century BCE and come from a limited number of sites located on or near the Mediterranean coast. Therefore, the chronological range, the origin, and the regional distribution of these vessels are different from those of mortaria, and the two ceramic groups represent different phenomena. While imported cooking pots may be related to cooking traditions of immigrants or mercenaries, imported mortaria were clearly used by the local population of the country. For example, there is no reason to assume that the late 7thearly 6th century BCE mortaria found in Philistia and Judah were used mainly by foreigners (by the Kittim of the Arad ostraca or by any others).24 The reason for importing these vessels from a relatively remote region (Cyprus) to various locations in the southern Levant seems to be functional and economic rather than related to culture-specific traditions of food preparation. According to Hargis (2007, 4243), mortaria were high-quality grinding implements and were lighter than stone vessels of comparable size. It can be added that shipping heavy cargoes by sea was cheaper than moving them by land. Therefore, imported mortaria could be marketed in regions where basalt grinding stones were also sold and which were much closer to basalt outcrops in the Galilee, the Golan, and Jordan than to Cyprus. Both types of grinding implements were frequently used together, as mentioned above. The presence of igneous minerals in their ware contributed to their efficiency as grinding tools, but, for the same reason, their large-scale production was possible only in areas where such rocks were present. Local imitations of mortaria were clearly less efficient as grinding implements, and it is doubtful if they were always used in this capacity. Mortaria were transported to the Levantine ports by sea. However, it is a little odd that all the known shipwrecks, both from the Iron Age and later periods, did not contain mortaria as cargo, and the only examples retrieved from them most probably belonged to crews (see also Villing 2006, 39, n. 182). Most of these shipwrecks can be dated to the Persian period (e.g. Artzy and Lyon 2003, 183187, fig. 3: 24; Greene, Lawall and Polzer 2008, 697, fig. 19), and only one, dated to the Iron Age, is directly relevant to the present study. The 8th century Elissa shipwreck yielded one mortarium that was categorised as galley ware (Ballard et al. 2002, 162). The cargo of this ship comprised hundreds of torpedo-shaped amphorae that are known from Megiddo, Lachish, Beersheba, the Phoenician coast, eastern Cyprus, and Carthage (Bikai 1987, 49; Ballard et al. 2002, 158160; Singer-Avitz 2010, 188190, with references).25 The ship was sailing from Phoenicia towards the African coast and thus probably did not belong to the trade network that distributed mortaria throughout the southern Levant. The mortarium from Elissa was indeed a galley ware and not a part of the cargo. Late Iron Age II mortaria seem to have the same provenance as another somewhat neglected ceramic type of this period: basket-handled amphorae of early (biconical) type (Humbert 1991; Wolff 2009). This vessel, first attested on Cyprus in contexts dated to the late 8th century BCE, is attested at a number of 7th century Levantine sites.26 According to INAA, the Iron Age II basket-handled amphorae from Tell Keisan originate from Cyprus (Gunneweg and Perlman 1991), while TSPA of these amphorae from Ashkelon and Kabri indicated a Cypriote or coastal Syrian provenance (Master 2003, 55; Goren and CohenWeinberger 2002, table 15.1: 43, but see a comment by Lehmann [2002, 198199] in favour of their Cypriote provenance).27 In his seriation of the Iron Age pottery from Cyprus, Gjerstad included these amphorae in his Plain White V class (1948, fig. 57: 23). Note that there is no evidence that this form was produced in Phoenicia. It is quite possible, therefore, that basket-handled amphorae and mortaria were distributed by the same trade network. Significantly, no basket-handled amphorae were reported from the two 8th century Phoenician shipwrecks found off the Ashkelon/Gaza Strip coast (Ballard et al. 2002).

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Other Cypriote imports in Iron Age IIBC contexts in Israel include Black-on-Red, White Painted III, IV, and V, and Plain White IV and V bowls, jugs, juglets, and amphorae (Srensen 1997; Lehmann 2002; Schreiber 2003, 188219; see also a rare Plain White krater from Mezad Hashavyahu in Fantalkin 2001, fig. 30: 5). None of these vessel types fits the East Greek pottery assemblage as defined by Cook and Dupont (1998). In addition, some of the ceramic types attributed to Phoenician assemblages might in fact be of Cypriote provenance.28 It can be concluded that the Iron Age mortaria are far from being the only Cypriote ceramic type that was imported to the southern Levant during the 8th7th centuries. Mortaria, however, are by far the most numerous Cypriote object in the late Iron Age II assemblages, and their regional distribution is the widest. What trade network distributed mortaria (and possibly other Cypriote vessels and goods) throughout the southern Levant? Although any answer to this question is necessarily somewhat speculative, several observations can be made. Figure 1 shows that the distribution of the late Iron Age mortaria from the southern Levant crossed political and cultural boundaries, and that mortaria appear in many inland sites, suggesting that they reached their final destination through local middlemen who bought them in international markets in coastal towns such as Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa, Dor, Acco, and Sarepta. These middlemen sold them even at such faraway settlements as En-Gedi, Jericho, and Tell es-Saidiyeh. Since the quantitative data on the usage of different types of grinding tools is virtually absent, the regional patterns of their consumption are hard to elucidate. What is clear is that the Iron Age mortaria were much more popular in coastal settlements than in the inland ones, no doubt due to the increasing cost of transportation by land. However, there is currently no positive evidence that mortaria tend to appear in affluent households. Mortaria could have been supplied to the southern Levantine ports by merchants either from Cyprus or from the Phoenician coast. However, since mortaria seem to be associated with Cypriote basket-handled amphorae rather than with torpedo-shaped amphorae from the Phoenician mainland, Cypriote traders are better candidates for this role than the traders from Tyre and Sidon. In addition, it does not seem probable that Cypriote merchants would give away such a source of income and allow foreigners (from Arvad, Tyre, Sidon, Euboea, or any other commercial centre in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean) to enjoy the profits from goods produced on the island.29 To be sure, Ezekiel 27:6 can be interpreted as an indication of Tyrian trade in Cypriote wood, but the text only says that the Cypriote wood was used in Tyre for the decks of their ships, and it is possible that this commodity was brought to Tyre by Cypriote merchants, either of Phoenician origin or not (cf. Diakonoff 1992, 175, n. 38). The Cypriote traders in question were possibly coming from the Phoenician settlements on Cyprus, at least two of which are known (Demand 2004, 260261; Lipiski 2004, 4276). Kition was a Phoenician colony, established by Tyrians in the 9th century BCE. During the 8th century, Phoenicians also settled in the already-existing town of Amathus. The toponym Kartihadasht (the New City) on two Phoenician inscriptions from Cyprus and in Esarhaddons inscriptions from Nineveh might refer either to Kition or to Amathus (for the different views see Yon and Childs 1997, 11; Markoe 2000, 170171; Lipiski 2004, 4849, with references). Numerous archaeological and epigraphic finds suggest a Phoenician presence in other Cypriote settlements as well, such as Salamis and Idalion. In any case, the results of provenance studies indicate that several production centres of mortaria existed on the island, and, therefore, they were probably exported from more than one port. The native Cypriotes (the descendants of Etheocypriots and of the Aegean settlers) from these or other coastal towns could also have taken part in this trade; an incised Cypro-cyllabic inscription on a 7th century basket-handled amphora from Kabri (Lehmann 2002, fig. 5. 75) suggests that the local Phoenicians were not the only ones to sustain the overseas commerce of the island.


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The fragmented political structure of Iron Age Cyprus, which was divided into several kingdoms, suggests that each port conducted separate trading expeditions to the Levant and elsewhere. In our view, the trade network (or networks) established by these Cypriote traders has been clearly differentiated from the one maintained by Tyre, Sidon, and other mainland Phoenician cities. Although Phoenician colonies maintained relations with their mother cities (in fact, the raison dtre for their foundation was to sustain the east-west trade routes), there is reason to believe that Phoenician establishments on Cyprus pursued independent commercial policy. The submission of the Cypriote Kartihadasht to Tyrian, and later to Sidonian, control during the 8th century (Lipiski 2004, 4648) does not seem to be a voluntary step. However, this control probably terminated at the end of that century or shortly afterwards, when the mainland Phoenician trade centres were repeatedly hit by the Assyrians and lost their independence.30 Although formally the Cypriote kingdoms were Assyrian vassals as well, there is no evidence that their maritime trade was controlled by the empire (see also Iacovou 2008, 462). The recent reassessment of the Black-on-Red pottery from the 9th-8th century Dodecanese (Schreiber 2003, 299306), connecting it to the Cypriote (rather than mainland Phoenician) commercial activity (contra Coldstream 1969), is another case where the domination of the mainland Phoenician cities over the maritime trade should not be taken for granted. As far as the regional south-Levantine trade in mortaria is concerned, these vessels were part of the overland trade between the coastal cities and the inland settlements of the southern Levant. The available information from central and southern Israel concerning the non-elite goods that were moved eastwards is minimal, no doubt in part due to the fact that the traded materials were perishable, and that sacks, rather than jars, were used. The excavations in Jerusalem yielded a large quantity of fish bones that belong to species from the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile River, and remains of cedar of Lebanon were found at sites in the Beersheba and Arad Valleys (see references in Faust and Weiss 2005, 75).31 Numerous examples of Phoenician torpedo-shaped amphorae found in Beersheba represent another aspect of the eastward movement of staple commodities (Singer-Avitz 2010, fig. 1:15). In conclusion, we would like to stress that the problems discussed here clearly require further research. One of the main problems in the study of mortaria is the rarity of published quantitative data on these vessels and on the accompanying assemblages of pottery and grinding stones. This data is imperative for synchronic and diachronic analyses of use patterns of the different types of grinding tools. Quantification is also necessary for assessing the place of mortaria among the various imports to the southern Levant. Additional provenance studies, employing various chemical and mineralogical methods, are needed in order to verify the proposed view that the imported Iron Age II mortaria, or at least their vast majority, originate from Cyprus. According to the provenance studies presented here, these mortaria were made of several types of clay, apparently reflecting a number of different production centres of these vessels, but the location of these workshops should be defined in a more precise way and the regional aspects of local imitation of these vessels also need clarification. These local imitations represent either grinding vessels of inferior quality or, alternatively, serving vessels. The reasons for the local demand for Cypriote mortaria vis--vis basalt and other types of grinding stones require additional exploration as well.
acknowledgements The authors wish to thank Yuval Goren from Tel Aviv University and Amir Gorzalczany from the Israel Antiquities Authority for their advice and assistance with regard to the interpretation of the thin sections of mortaria from Israel and Cyprus and Seymour Gitin of the W. F. Albright Institute of

mortaria as a foreign element in the levant


Archaeological Research in Jerusalem for kindly allowing us to study the unpublished material from Tel Miqne-Ekron. We are grateful to Linda Meiberg from the University of Pennsylvania, to Andrea Berlin from Boston University, to Alexander Fantalkin from Tel Aviv University, and to the anonymous readers for their comments and suggestions.
notes 1 For studies of mortaria dating to the Persian and of this family to include the Cypro-Archaic I period as Hellenistic periods, see Lapp 1970, 180, 184185; Berlin well. 13 This paste is also characterised by igneous inclu1997, 12425, n. 280; Tal 1999, 98; Bienkowski 2001, 352. In fact, the mortaria discussed in the present study sions that were probably intentionally added in order to represent the initial phase of the long-term phenome- create the rough texture of the vessel for the facilitation non of import and local production of these vessels in of grinding (Master 2001, 176, 220). Master suggested that the lack of igneous inclusions in locally produced the southern Levant. 2 As shown by Salles (1983, 203), the ring-based type, mortaria would easily distinguish them as lower quality previously thought to be limited to the Persian period, grinding vessels (2001, 220). 14 The samples in question come from Apolloniaemerged as early as the 7th century BCE. 3 Similarly, most of the Greek mortaria were grinding Arsuf, Tel Michal, Yavne-Yam, Tel Yaoz, Jerusalem, Beer-Sheba, and Khirbet Malta. vessels (Weinberg 1954, 129130; Matteucci 1986). 15 The above-mentioned Ionian example from 4 Salles and Orens suggestion that these vessels were imported from western utilised for measuring grain or flour is tenuous since Ashkelon, if indeed an exception. Moreover, Anatolia, can be regarded as since the their heavy and cumbersome nature would not readily trade in these non-elite objects was driven by purely facilitate measuring (Salles 1983, 208209; 1985, 207; commercial reasons (see also below), importation of Oren 1984, 17). mortaria from Cyprus was economically more viable 5 During the Persian period, they became more than shipping them from the significantly more distant morphologically varied than in the preceding period eastern Aegean. (e.g. Tal 1999, 9899). It is interesting that some of 16 Sixteen Persian period mortaria from Tell el-Hesi these Persian period variants are made of a less gritty were analyzed by INAA (Bennet and Blakely 1989, ware (Tal 1999, 98), hinting at a different use for these 198), but the results were published in a sketchy and vessels. unclear fashion, and it is difficult to evaluate them. The 6 In the Persian period Sanctuary of Apollo at range of clay sources reported in that study includes the Naukratis, numerous mortaria were used as votive region of Dura-Europos in eastern Syria, Cyprus, and offerings or in the preparation of sacrificial meals, and Lebanon. According to the TSPA of (possibly) the many of them had dedicatory inscriptions in Greek same vessels, most of the samples are characterised by (Villing 2006, who lists numerous other instances of ophiolitic-rich clay, discussed above (see Bennet and mortaria found in ritual contexts). In Cyprus they Blakely 1989, 198200; Blakely and Bennet 1989, 56). 17 Studies of much later (Roman period) mortaria appear in large quantities in tombs (e.g. at the Necropolis of Salamis, see Karageorghis 1973, pls. 47: 233, have led to a possible production center at Ras al-Bassit 255; 51: 209, 227, 802, 994, etc.), possibly in relation to in Syria where Roman period stamped kiln wasters were found (Blakely, Brinkman and Vitaliano 1992, funerary meals. 7 Note the opinion of Gitin (1990, 211) that these 204). Clearly, INAA studies of Cypriote and Cilician mortaria would be of much value. examples are intrusive. 18 In fact, Yezerski (2007, 50) is aware of the foreign 8 Only a few archaeological reports on mortaria include the quantifiable data. To the best our origin of these vessels from En-Gedi, as is Goren in his knowledge, we have listed every published example petrographic comments on the pottery from Tel Batash of mortaria, or mentioned the overall number of the (in Mazar and Panitz-Cohen 2001, 1821, fabric group published or cited vessels. When no such information 13). 19 These samples were analyzed by one of the authors was available, we assessed the quantities of mortaria in terms of few, several, etc., on the basis of the relevant (D. B-S) at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. An attempt was made to include a variety of visually publications. 9 For problems in the working methods of Sir identifiable fabrics in the selection of vessels to be examined. L. Woolley, the excavator of Al Mina, see Boardman 20 In this alteration, minerals derived from ultramafic 1999, 138. rocks and metamorphic mafic rocks (as olivine and 10 The late Iron Age Syrian sites where mortaria seem pyroxene) become richer in magnetite and change their to be missing include Bassit, Tell Abu Danne, Tell Afis, texture due to various conditions of temperature and Qatna, Tell Nebi Mend, Ain Dara, Hama, Tell Kazel, pressure (Wicks and Whittaker 1977, 45961). Tell Sukas, Tell Judeideh, and Tell Tayinat; see also 21 This fabric is somewhat more similar to Masters Lehmann 1996, 389391, Forms 161163, 165. (2001, 138141) Category 13 (Highly Micaceous 11 For the view that the earliest mortaria from Cilicia Samples with Reddish Brown Fabric). The provenance date to the 8th6th centuries, see Lehmann 1996, suggested by Whitbread for this fabric is Rhodes or 389391; 1998, 19, fig. 6: 1718. other Dodecanesean Islands (1995, 129130), yet highly 12 Gjerstad assigned the Plain White V family to the micaceous fabrics can originate from Cyprus as well Cypro-Archaic II period (600480 BCE). Following the (Whitbread 1995, 130). discovery of mortaria in the Salamis tombs mentioned 22 We wish to thank Prof. Yuval Goren from Tel Aviv above, Karageorghis extended the chronological span University for providing us with these samples. Note


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26 For example, at Tel Dan (Pakman 1992, fig. 6: 7, see also mortaria in fig. 4: 12), Kabri (Lehmann 2002, fig. 5.84: 12, and see an amphora handle inscribed in Cypro-syllabic on fig. 3.75), Tell Keisan (Briend and Humbert 1980, pls. 2324), Mezad Hashavyahu (Fantalkin 2001, 96), and Ashkelon (Master 2003, fig. 7: 1). 27 These conclusions contradict the view of Stern (1995, 63) who considers the earliest examples of this type as coming from Rhodes and thus belonging to East Greek wares. 28 See, for instance, various types of bowls, jugs, juglets, and jars from Kabri Strata E4E2 (Lehmann 2002, 181199). 29 The role of Euboean cities in the eastern Mediterranean trade during the Assyrian period was minimal in any case. See Fantalkin 2006, 201. 30 For a different view see Katzenstein 1973. 31 To the best of our knowledge, no Iron Age mortaria have been found in Jerusalem.

that the sampled examples from Amathus are not dated stratigraphically and could be later than the Levantine mortaria discussed here. 23 In the examination of the 7th century BCE mortaria from Israel, some scholars succeeded in distinguishing between several fabrics within this type (e.g. Gitin 1990, 211; Fantalkin 2001, 82). These potentially important observations were not linked to results of provenance studies (TSPA or INAA), and the significance of this phenomenon was, therefore, left unexplained. 24 For the various views on the presence of foreign mercenaries employed by Egypt and Judah in the southern part of the country during this period see Dion 1992; Waldbaum 1994; 1997; 2002b; Fantalkin 2001; 2006; Niemeier 2002. 25 Note that a variant of these amphorae, with an elongated ridged rim, known from Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, and Ashdod, was produced locally (Singer-Avitz 2010, 188190) and apparently was not used in maritime trade.

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