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Shine Like the Sun. Lustre-painted and Associated Pottery from the Medieval Middle East

Series: Bibliotheca Iranica: Islamic Art & Architecture Series 12
Availability: Out of stock
Published: 2004
Page #: vii + 295
Size: 9 x 12
ISBN: 1-56859-096-2
plates, bibliography

Quick Overview

The glazed ceramics produced in the Islamic world are of tremendous importance to the fields of art-history, archaeology and the history of technology. Unfortunately their study has been beset by three major problems. Firstly, problems existed with the chronological and typological ordering of the various types, particularly in the relationship between different regions. Secondly, debilitating problems existed regarding the identification of centres of production for these wares. Although there is some documentary and archaeological evidence it has not been enough in the overwhelming majority of cases to link ceramic types to particular centres with any certainty. Thirdly, technical studies of these wares have previously focused on a few types, while most important technological questions have gone unanswered. Such questions include the origins of tin-opacified glazes, stonepaste bodies, underglaze painting, and other techniques.

This study is aimed at approaching these three problems, focusing on the period from the beginning of the Islamic period, up until circa 1250. Three chief methodologies have been used. Standard archaeological approaches to pottery classification are used to create a seriated ceramic typology, including study of forms and motif assemblages. The application of the scanning electron microscope with attached facilities is aimed at unraveling technological questions. Petrographic analysis is the chief means of characterization and identification of kiln-sites. For the petrographic study, new criteria for separating petrographic groups were developed for study of the stonepaste-bodied wares. The special strength of this work is its multi-disciplinary nature, as the three strands of the research correlate closely. For instance without an accurately dated ceramic typology it would have been impossible to put the provenance and particularly the technological findings into context.

The resulting picture is of an artistically and technically dynamic industry centralized in a very few specialized centres, with the rest of the ceramic industry forming a traditional and derivative backdrop.

author

Robert B. Mason

Dr. Robert Mason is an archaeologist, anthropologist, art-historian, geologist, and materials scientist whose experience and research has included study of the the art, technology, trade, and industry from the beginnings of time to the industrial revolution around the world. A particular area of specialisation is the material culture and archaeology of the Middle East and Europe during the Islamic and Mediaeval periods (roughly 500 AD to the present). Dr. Mason's archaeological fieldwork has been based in Syria since 1998, particularly in the citadel of Aleppo, and since 2004 at the monastery of St. Moses (Deir Mar Musa). The monastery, 90 km north of Damascus in the mountainous Syrian desert, is the focus of Dr. Mason's survey of the site and its environs, recording features possibly as early as the Neoloithic. Research at the monastery has led to a growing research interest in the archaeology of Christianity and monotheism generally in the Holy Land. Ceramics and vitreous materials are Mason's primary area of analytical research, particularly the high-technology glazed ceramics made in the Middle East between c. 650 and 1700 AD. Dr. Mason is in particular an authority in the application of petrographic analysis, a geological technique used to identify minerals, which is used to identify where the pottery was made. Robert Mason is also responsible for the ROM's collections database and provision of cataloguing for the Egyptian, Far Eastern, Textiles, Greek & Roman, and West Asian sections of the Department of World Cultures. Mason is appointed as an Associate Professor with the Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations Department at the University of Toronto.

Ch. 1 Introduction and objectives 1
Ch. 2 Methodology 5
Ch. 3 Iraq c. 700-1100 23
Ch. 4 Egypt c. 700-1200 61
Ch. 5 Syria c. 700-1250 91
Ch. 6 Iran c. 700-1340 121
Ch. 7 Pottery and History 156
Ch. 8 Conclusion 169
App. A Catalogue of objects studied 183
App. B Catalogue of petrofabrics 200
App. C Archaeological sites and their pottery 219
Plates
Bibliography

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