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Activities in 2011

The study of the Indian pottery from Khor Rori

A large amount of pottery has been found during the excavations at Sumhuram.
These are mostly imported, including a lot of amphorae from Italy, the Aegean islands and Africa, glazed pottery from the Near East and pottery from the Gulf. However, many of them are pieces of truly Indian and so-called “Indian production” in addition to locally produced ceramics.
The issue of this Indian material is complex and problematical, beginning with its definition. Indeed, the term “Indian pottery” is used for materials of great diversification in fabric and technique as well as for table bowls and plates (Indian Black and Red Ware; Rouletted Ware), kitchen pots (Vegetal Temper Ware; Coarse Red Ware) and shards with inscriptions and graffiti.
Similar pottery is widely widespread in the Indian sub-continent as well as in different sites along the coasts of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea (ed-Dur, Mleiha, Sumhuram, Qana, Berenice).
The discovery of a large amount of Indian pottery in Khor Rori led IMTO to launch different joint projects.
In 2007 a collaboration started with Dr. Sunil Gupta, co-director of the Museum of Allahabad (India) and director of the excavations at Kamrej (Gujarat), a harbor roughly contemporary to Sumhuram where similar materials were being discovered.
More recently, in 2011, a second collaboration started with Dr. Heidrun Schenk, co-director of the archaeological mission in Tissamaharama (Sri Lanka).
The aim of these projects is to ascertain whether the ceramics found in Oman were imported from India or were manufactured in different sites by adopting the same shapes and firing technique as attested in the Indian sub-continent.
We are thus proceeding with the archaeometrical analysis of the wares in order to ascertain the components of the fabrics and, consequently, the places of production.
For the results of these studies see: Pavan A., Schenk H., Crossing the Indian Ocean before the Periplus: a comparison of pottery assemblages at the sites of Sumhuram (Oman) and Tissamaharama (Sri Lanka), Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 23 (2012): 191-202.