Ware/Ware Family

Phoenician Semi-Fine ware

Lebanon/Southern Coast

Iron Age III/Achaemenid Persian, Hellenistic, Early Roman

6th century BCE - 1st century CE

Ware/Ware Family: Phoenician Semi-Fine ware

Ware/Ware Family Name, Origin, and Date

Phoenician Semi-Fine ware

Lebanon/Southern Coast

6th century BCE - 1st century CE

Iron Age III/Achaemenid Persian, Hellenistic, Early Roman


Phoenician semi-fine is a long-lived ware used primarily for table vessels, perfume containers and jars. Identical shapes occur in two visually distinct fabric groups. The first is dense and chalky, almost powdery, somewhat soft, with very fine white and red inclusions. The second is more granular, with small and occasional medium angular lime inclusions and quartz sand. Both are usually fully fired. Petrographic analysis of the first, chalky variant found shell inclusions, suggesting coastal production; visual and tactile comparison with vessels from Tyre suggest an origin around that city (Patricia Bikai, pers. comm.). Most of the vessels from around the city of ‘Akko occur in the second, more granular fabric. One hypothesis is that the chalky variant comes from the area of Tyre while the more granular version comes from ‘Akko. Semi-fine vessels (in both chalky and granular varieties) occur in quantity in southern Lebanon and northern Israel, from Tyre to Dor on the coast and inland from the Hula Valley (Tel Anafa) to the Bet She’an Valley (Pella, Bet Yerah; Berlin 1997a, 1997b:9–10).

Phoenician Semi-Fine A

Vessels are reddish yellow (5YR 4/6-8) to pale brown (7.5YR 6/4-6), often fully fired but sometimes with a barely visible firing core. Most have a clean, dense, chalky, almost powdery texture with very fine white and red inclusions. Some have a more granular texture, with small and occasional medium angular lime inclusions and quartz sand.

Fabric is fairly soft, well-levigated, pale buff to pink in color (5YR 7/4 - 7.5YR 7/6), with a chalky texture. A fine dusty film adheres to the fingers upon handling (Berlin 1997, p. 9).

This ware is characterized by a pale brown-buff little ferruginous calcareous marl matrix tempered with coastal sand. The sand is composed by very well sorted fine-grained 0.1-0.3 mm rounded to sub-angular quartz, with lesser quantities of rounded grains of limestone and aquatic shells' fragments. Plagioclase, chert and heavy minerals are very rare. Single coarse (0.5-1.0 mm) inclusions of limestone, shells fragments and nodules of silty ferruginous clay (possibly Terra Rossa) could accidently enter the paste. The temper composes 15-20 percent of the sherds' volume. These vessels have about 1 mm thick light ware outside and around the rim. It would seem that the optical properties of both clay minerals and carbonate component of the paste changed while firing. Possibly additional air at the end of the firing process created higher temperatures and an oxidizing atmosphere for a short time, or use of salt water for 'washing' the vessels could give the same effect. Firing temperature estimated 750ºC.

Site Distribution

'Akko, Railway Station (Israel/Northern Coastal Plain)

'Akko, Harbor (Israel/Northern Coastal Plain)

Amazia (Israel/Shephelah)

Gamla (Israel/Galilee)

Gezer (Israel/Shephelah)

Horbat Zefat 'Adi (Israel/Northern Coastal Plain)

Khirbet el-'Eika (Israel/Galilee)

Khirbet esh-Shuhara (Israel/Galilee)

Kokhim Cave (Israel/Galilee)

Mizpe Yammim (Israel/Galilee)

Qedesh (Israel/Galilee)

Tel Abel Beth Maacah (Israel/Hula Valley)

Tel Anafa (Israel/Hula Valley)

Tel Dor (Israel/Carmel coastal plain)

Tel Istabbah (Israel/Beth She'an Valley)

Vessels 69
Break Photos 39
Petrographic Samples 12
Bibliography
  1. Berlin, Andrea M. Tel Anafa II, i: The Hellenistic and Roman Pottery: The Plain Wares. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 10.2. Ann Arbor, MI: Kelsey Museum of the University of Michigan, 1997 , Page(s) 9-10.
Discussion/Questions/Acknowledgements