Nabatean, or Nabataean, pottery and coroplastic production, recovered since the very first organized archaeological excavations of Petra in Jordan, attest the great skills of Nabatean craftsmen. Since the 1st century BC, the Nabateans developed a specific and characteristic style in their pottery production, without any reference to the Hellenistic artistic tradition. Nabatean pottery is characterised by a bright red terracotta, a fine modelling and by a painted decoration, and displays a smooth and matte finish. Many different shapes have been recovered, including huge jars, pots, flacons for storage of perfumes and ointments, and bowls. Open bowls, such as this beautiful example, were the most painted forms. The hand-painted decoration usually includes dark brown and light red motifs of flowers, leafs and palmettes. Another interesting and most recognisable aspect of Nabatean terracotta wares is the thinness of the vessels’ walls, known as egg-shell vessels. Such vessels, featuring a thickness of 1-3 mm and a metallic hardness, were mostly shallow open bowls, extremely difficult to be potted on the potter’s wheel. With the Roman conquest of the area around 150 AD, Nabatean pottery production started losing its thinness and polychrome decoration, becoming more crude and simple.
To discover more about Nabataean art, please visit our blog page: Nabataean Art of the Stone City Dwellers.