In 2019 Paul Reynolds gained a Major Award from The Barakat Trust (Oxford) to develop his research on Islamic pottery in Tunisia in the project Early Islamic ceramics and culture in Tunisia: chronologies, sources and vessel use. This will focus on the provenance of the Utica ceramic assemblage (glazed wares, plain-utilitarian wares, amphorae, cooking wares, lamps) through archaeometry of the clays (petrology: Claudio Capelli, University of Genoa; chemical analyses: ERAAUB), its typology and dating, as well as a study of vessel contents and use (through organic residues contents analysis: Alessandra Pecci, ERAAUB). In the latter case, work will focus on the amphorae (probably Sicilian, but perhaps some are Tunisian: wine?) and on a ‘classic’ two-handled bowl (milk products-yoghurt, typical of the modern Berber diet).
Other key issues here are the clarification of the Tunisian (e.g. Utica, Raqqada, Sabra al-Mansuriya, Oudna) versus possible Sicilian (Palermo, Agrigento) sources of the wares. The partly contemporary 10th-11th century pottery from silos excavated at Bir Ftouha, to the east of Carthage (Rossiter et al. 2012) will offer further evidence for comparison. If funds permit, it is hoped that the revolutionary new technique of Rehydroxilation dating, analyses to be carried out at the University of Salento, will provide a much needed non-subjective dating framework for Islamic pottery in North Africa, given that there are 4 clear major ceramic phases at the Utica site. The project is fortunate also to have the collaboration of Trinitat Pradell and Elena Salinas (UPC) who have already made important discoveries in their initial analyses of the general manufacturing processes of the glazed wares of Bir Ftouha, including the composition of the glazes.
Arthur, P., Buccolieri, A., Leo Imperiale, M. 2017, ‘Experimental rehydroxylation and the dating of early medieval and Byzantine ceramics. A southern Italian case study’, Post-Classical Archaeologies 7: 177-190.
Reynolds, P. 2013. ‘The Pottery’, in Rossiter, J., Reynolds, P., MacKinnon, M., ‘A Roman bath-house and a group of Early Islamic middens at Bir Ftouha, Carthage’, Archeologia Medievale 39 (2012, published 2013: 245-282): 250-273.
Reynolds, P. 2016. ‘From Vandal Africa to Arab Ifriqīya: tracing ceramic and economic trends through the 5th to the 11th centuries’, in North Africa under Byzantium and Islam, Dumbarton Oaks Spring Symposium Rome Re-imagined: Byzantine North Africa, c. 400-800, 2012, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA: 129-171.