Raw materials

clay from Moza formation.jpg

Yesterday I shared an image of a Palestinian potter at his wheel in a household production center near Jericho. That aspect of traditional ceramic manufacturing in Palestine is easily imagined. Less familiar is the investment of labor required to convert dry crumbly clay like this into a "plastic" medium that can be worked.

In the next few days here at POTD I'll illustrate something of the production process that I witnessed during my ramblings in the 1990s.

For now, recognize that this handful of material was dug out of the ground north of Jerusalem. It comes from a well-known source called the Motza Formation.

Just as traditional Palestinian potters dig this clay today, so too the ancients. Our man in Jericho got his clay from the same source as the potters of Qumran, the community famously associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls. These kinds of "connective streams" underline how modern behaviors can inform ancient ones.

I wonder if donkeys once carried panniers full of this raw material off the Judean Ridge?