The International Ez Zantur Project

Preliminary Report on the 1997 Swiss-Liechtenstein excavations at ez Zantur

by Bernhard Kolb (with contributions by Daniel Keller and Yvonne Gerber)

IV. Ez Zantur IV: Coarse ware pottery from room 6

Among the finds of Room 6 there were two complete cooking pots (Figs. A and C), a complete jug (Fig. 17.H), a complete pilgrim flask (Figs. 17.G, 18), a complete basin (Figs. 17.I), two rims of two different jars (Figs. B and D), the rim of a jug (Fig. 17.K), the rim of a juglet (Fig. 17.L), a casserole which was reconstructed from eight rim sherds, four body sherds and three bottom sherds (Fig. 16.E), several sherds counted as 6 individual lids (like Fig. 16.F), four were of 16 cm diameter, two of 12 cm diameter. There was also the upper part of an incense burner, made of clay, and two complete „Nabataean“ bowls, one with birds and palmettes as interior decoration. The style of the palmettes clearly indicates that the painted bowl was also manufactured in a late period (contemporary to the commonware discussed here) as the context in which the bowl was found already tells us The plain Nabataean bowl, EF 3056. The painted Nabataean bowl, EF 3055, shall not be discussed further in this report; it will be subject of another report which will investigate the development of the Nabataean painted pottery after the middle of the 2nd century AD. .

Drawing from SLFA
Fig. 16 A–F: EZ IV. Coarse ware pottery of the 4th century AD from room 6 (drawings: I. Haussener)

The vessel forms are a representative cross-section of current coarse ware repertoire from the 4th century AD. The six lids – only one of which belongs to a retraceable vessel, i. e. the casserole (Fig. 16.E), suggest that in all likelihood this ceramic assemblage was composed of more vessels than those found. Nevertheless, the basic outfit of a Late Roman house is present.

Drawing from SLFA
Fig. 17 G–L: EZ IV. Coarse ware pottery of the 4th century AD from room 6 (drawings: I. Haussener)

Comparisons with the Late Roman pottery from site EZ I

Some of the vessels are well known from the Late Roman houses on the terrace on the other side of the hill, az-Zantur I, such as the big jar decorated with fine incised lines Fig. 16.B; cf. Fellmann Brogli 1996: 242 Figs. 728–729, type A.2a. , the casserole with two vertical handles (Fig. 16.E cf. Fellmann Brogli 1996: 257 Figs. 773–774, type C.6a. ), the basin (Fig. 17.I cf. Fellmann Brogli 1996: 260 Fig. 788, type C.1a. ), the pilgrim flask (Fig. 17.G, 18 Its rim form and handle shape resemble more type B.18b of Fellmann Brogli 1996: 267 Fig. 828, than her type B.18a: 267 Fig. 827. ) and the lids (Fig. 16.F cf. Fellmann Brogli 1996: 269 Fig. 841, type D.1a. ). The two cooking pots, one with a broad ridge running directly below the rim (Fig. 16.C) and the other big pot with a sloping outer rim and a small ridge below it (Fig. 16.A) have no direct parallels in the Late Roman houses from site EZ I, but are in the tradition of the Late Roman cooking pots classified as A.2a/A.2b and A.1a in the corresponding publication Fellmann Brogli 1996: 244 Figs. 733–734, and 245 Figs. 736.738. In the meantime the typology has been more differentiated and some of the types already published are divided in further subtypes. . Also unparalled in the az-Zantur Late Roman houses are the rim forms of the jar with a thickened end (Fig. 16.D), the narrowing rim of the juglet (Fig. 17.L) and the sloping outer rim of the jug with a single vertical handle extending from the neck to the shoulder (Fig. 17.K). The jug with the rim curved inward is striking (Fig. 17.H). Not only is the rim form unparalleled and unusual for az-Zantur pottery; the clay, with its lighter red fabric and slightly darker red surface, suggests the possibility that this jug was not manufactured locally (the clay has not yet been analysed). The clay of all the other vessels from Room 6 is typical of Late Roman ware from Petra, i. e. the fabric mainly light red, sometimes reddish yellow, with the exception of the pilgrim flask with a kind of pink fabric.

Photo-Nr: 97–27–18
Abb. 18: Painted nabataean bowl of decoration phase 4 from room 6 (photo: O. Jäggi)


The pottery from the Late Roman houses on site EZ I (az-Zantur) dates from the 4th century AD. There were two occupation phases, one which ended with the earthquake of 363 AD (Late Roman I), the second supposedly lasting from the last quarter of the 4th until the early 5th century AD Late Roman II; Fellmann Brogli 1996: 222; 236, also with a reference to B. Kolb in the same publication. . All of the EZ I-vessels which are referred to as comparisons to the ceramic shapes from Room 6 occur in both occupation phases Types (A.1a), A.2a, (A.2b), B.18b, C.1a, C.6a, D.1a. Compare the types with the list in Fellmann Brogli 1996: 237 Fig. 727. The difference in sherd counts between occupation phases Late Roman I and Late Roman II is due to the different numbers of sherds found overall: 589 versus 111 sherds respectively. Thus, even if the sum of the different types is less in phase Late Roman I, the types were already in use during the first occupation phase. . On the other hand none of the forms which are peculiar to, and only to, occupation phase Late Roman II and probably arise at the end of the 4th century AD were found in Room 6. This, and also the corroborating observation that Room 6 was probably destroyed by some violent event (possibly the earthquake from 363 AD, which is known to have caused severe damage on terrace EZ I), is a strong argument in favour of dating the pottery assemblage to the middle of the 4th century AD, i. e. before 363.

Although no clear differentiation of the ceramic repertoire emerges between phase Late Roman I and Late Roman II see also Fellmann Brogli 1996: 237. , some further observations support a dating of the Room 6–assemblage before AD 363. The clay fabric of the vessels, which are from an early 4th century-context, is mostly of a bright red (light red, sometimes reddish yellow), carefully levigated, and well, i. e. hardly, burnt; whereas pottery from late 4th century onwards very often show clay colour which is grayish or darker red, and the fabric is more „porous“ – i. e. coarser tempering, maybe more sand, is added The pottery analyses are not yet finished. . All of the vessels from Room 6 have a bright red coloured clay and are well burnt.

Fig. 18: EZ IV. Room 6. Pilgrim flask (photo: D. Keller)

General comparisons

For specimens comparable to the cooking pots, the casserole, the lids and the basin I refer to the investigations by R. Fellmann Brogli Fellmann Brogli 1996: 238–239. . The cooking pot with a sloping outer rim (Fig. 16.A) has some resemblance to the the rim published by P. Parr Parr 1970: 371 Fig. 8,134. , dated to the 4th century / first half of the 5th century AD. The fine incised lines of the storage jar (Fig. 16.B) and the rim form of the pilgrim flask (Fig. 17.G) are well known features of Late Roman/Early Byzantine Petra Hammond 1977–1978: 232 Pl. 46,1. . The jug with the sloping outer rim and the vertical handle extending from the neck (Fig. 17.K) resembles another example from Petra Zayadine 1974: 235 Pl. 59,3 (8) and 236 Pl. 60,8. , dated by F. Zayadine to the beginning of the 4th century AD, and a jug from the el-Lejjûn fortress, Area K, trenches 1–2, also dated to the first half of the 4th century AD Parker 1987: 577 Figs. 103. 109. . Our example seems not to have carinated shoulders as in el-Lejjûn. The unusual rim form of the red coloured jug (Fig. 17.H) is comparable to examples only from much farther north e. g. from Mount Nebo Bagatti 1985: Pl. 19 Fig. 18,8. . The original distribution area of this vessel resp. rim form is not yet clear.

All these comparisons support our dating to the pre-363 AD strata. This small pottery assemblage from the 4th century AD is an important contribution to our knowledge of the pottery in South Jordan which is still insufficiently known.


  • Fig. 16, A. EF K 3046.3062
  • Cooking pot. Reddish yellow (Munsell 5YR 7/6), surface: red (Munsell 2.5YR 5/6), bottom blackened
  • Diameter rim: 10 cm
  • Fig. 16, B. K 3046.1514
  • Jar. Light red (Munsell 10R 6/8), surface: white (10YR 8/2)
  • Diameter rim: 12 cm
  • Fig. 16, C. EF K 3046.3057
  • Cooking pot. Light red (Munsell 2.5YR 6/6), surface: very pale brown (Munsell 10YR 8/3)
  • Diameter rim: 9 cm
  • Fig. 16, D. K 3046.1513
  • Jar. Light red (Munsell 10R 6/8), surface: very pale brown (Munsell 10YR 8/3)
  • Diameter rim: 12 cm
  • Fig. 16, E. K 3046.1511
  • Casserole. Reddish gray (Munsell 10R 6/1), surface: light gray (Munsell 5YR 7/1)
  • Diameter rim: 12 cm
  • Fig. 16, F. K 3046.15122
  • Lid. Reddish yellow (Munsell 5YR 6.5/6), surface: light gray (Munsell 10YR 7/2)
  • Diameter rim: 16 cm
  • Fig. 17, G. EF K 3046.3058
  • Pilgrim flask. Pink (Munsell 5YR 7.5/4), surface: white (Munsell 2.5Y 8/2)
  • Diameter rim: 4.5 cm
  • Fig. 17, H. EF K 3046.3059
  • Jug. Red (Munsell 10R 5/8), surface: red (Munsell 10R 4/8)
  • Diameter rim: 3 cm
  • Fig. 17, I. EF K 3065.3081
  • Basin. Light red (Munsell 2.5YR 6/8), surface: reddish brown (Munsell 5YR 5/3) and white (Munsell 10YR 8/2)
  • Diameter rim: 24 cm
  • Fig. 17, K. K 3046.1600
  • Jug. Light red (Munsell 2.5YR 6/8), surface: white (Munsell 2.5Y 8/2)
  • Diam. rim: 5.4 cm
  • Fig. 17, L. K 3046.1510
  • Juglet. Light red (Munsell 10R 6/8)
  • Diameter rim: 4 cm

Yvonne Gerber
Schweizerisch-Liechtensteinische Ausgrabungen in Petra der Universität Basel
Schönbeinstrasse 20
4056 Basel