Petrofabric: Egypt/Mixed Clay

Name, Origin, & Material

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Egypt/Mixed Clay

Egypt/Nile River Valley

Mixed clays

Quaternary deposits (p...

General Information

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This is NOT a single petro-fabric. Mixed clay petro-fabrics have a Nile clay component and another non-Nile clay component. The term mixed does not specify whether the pastes are from natural secondary clay deposits of mixed character or from a potter intentionally mixing clays to create a paste. This diverse paste can include: predominately Nile clay with lesser quantities of marl (calcareous clay), predominately Nile clay with finely dispersed calcareous material, predominately shale clays with lesser quantities of Nile clay and/or calcareous material, and predominately marl clay with lesser quantities of Nile clay.

Based on petrographic analyses to date, it is has been identified in many periods including the Predynastic, E...


Amphora
Ashkelon
1200-1100 BCE
Iron Age I


Jug
Rawd al-Buram
Hellenistic/Ptolemaic


Jar
Ashkelon
1200-1100 BCE
Iron Age I


Jar
Ashkelon
1200-1100 BCE
Iron Age I

Break Photos  1


Bowl, small
Aswan, Syene
3rd -1st century BCE
Hellenistic/Ptolemaic

Petrographic Samples  5

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3rd -1st century BCE
Hellenistic

Magnification:
x50
Polarized Light?
XPL




Hellenistic

Magnification:
50
Polarized Light?
PPL




late 3rd century BCE - 1st century CE
Hellenistic, Early Roman

Magnification:
50
Polarized Light?
PPL




5th - 1st century BCE
Late Period, Hellenistic

Magnification:
50
Polarized Light?
PPL

Description

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When calcareous material is present, it can range from weathered clayey limestone that is finely dispersed and decomposing (due to firing) to more solid micritic limestone fragments. Calcareous clay, i.e., marl, can be a component and in rare cases marl clay pellets are present. Overall, the amount of calcareous material will vary.


Nile clay is also typically present and its amount varies. It often appears as common silty quartz, with rare potassium feldspar, microcline, plagioclase, muscovite, biotite, iron oxides, opaques, pyroxene, amphibole, and rock fragments. Some mixed clay fabrics have Nile clay pellets that can be diagnostic.


The presence of shale clay can be challenging to assess, but generally appears as non-calcareous, iron-rich material lacking the silty inclusions typical of Nile clay. Its amount can vary. Often these fabrics are fairly consistent in texture petrographically, so they appear more as natural secondary clay deposits i.e., distal end of wadis where the Nile flood plain is located. However, it remains difficult to distinguish mixed clay fabrics derived from these natural mixed deposits from clay fabrics that could be the result of a potter mixing material to create a paste. [Modern potters have been known to add Nile clay to marl clay to make a more workable paste from stiffer marl clays]

This is NOT a single petro-fabric. Mixed clay petro-fabrics have a Nile clay component and another non-Nile clay component. The term mixed does not specify whether the pastes are from natural secondary clay deposits of mixed character or from a potter intentionally mixing clays to create a paste. This diverse paste can include: predominately Nile clay with lesser quantities of marl (calcareous clay), predominately Nile clay with finely dispersed calcareous material, predominately shale cla...

Associated Wares/Ware Families

6th century BCE - 1st century CE

Late Period, Hellenistic/Ptolemaic, Roman


Associated Kilns/Workshops

Site Distribution

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Aswan, Syene (Egypt/Upper Egypt)

Rawd al-Buram (Egypt/Eastern desert/Red Sea Coast)

Bibliography

Discussion/Acknowledgements

<p>This description was compiled during the LCP Egyptian Ceramic Petrography workshop at IFAO in September 2017.</p>