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Open bowl

ca. 1st century B.C.–1st century A.D.
Levant, Tawilan
Ceramic, paint
Diam. 8 5/8 in. (22 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, H. Dunscombe Colt Gift, 1977
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This bowl was excavated at Tawilan ('Ain Musa), northeast of Petra. The interior decoration is divided into five segments, each marked with hatching, that meet at an X in the center. An abstract leaf is painted in the center of each segment, and large ovals are painted over the lines dividing the segments. The bowl has a rounded bottom and an inverted rim. Its shape, its dark red-orange color, and its decoration, a radial, rotational design limited to two abstract motifs set against a hatched background, all point to a date in the first century A.D.

    The very thin painted ware so closely identified with Nabataean culture began to appear in the first century B.C. It reflects the influence of Hellenistic wares, but because its shapes, colors, and decoration are unique, it forms a distinct type and was recognized early on as an accurate indication of Nabataean presence. Found primarily in southern Nabataea, the pottery has also turned up in the ports of Oman and Yemen, along the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and along the Incense Route. Nabataean painted ware is usually decorated with floral motifs. It has been suggested that Nabataean painted ware was deliberately broken after use in religious ceremonies; the ware has also been connected with cultic meals for the deceased.

  • Provenance

    1969, excavated by Crystal M. Bennett on behalf of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the University College of London, Institute of Archaeology; ceded to the University College of London in the division of finds; acquired by the Museum in 1970 (but not accessioned until 1977), purchased from the University College of London.

  • Exhibition History

    "The Year One: Art of the Ancient World East and West," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 3, 2000–January 14, 2001.

  • References

    Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 108 (Jul. 1, 1977 - Jun. 30, 1978), p. 32.

    Hart, Stephen. 1995. "The Pottery." In Excavations at Tawilan in Southern Jordan, edited by Crystal-M. Bennet and Piotr Bienkowski. British Academy Monographs in Archaeology 8. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 60, fig. 6.38:1.

    Evans, Jean M. 2000. The Year One: Art of the Ancient World East and West, exh. cat. edited by Elizabeth J. Milleker. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 85, p. 110.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History