Gloria London [+]
Ancient clay cooking pots in the southern Levant are unappealing, rough pots that are not easily connected to meals known from ancient writings or iconographic representations. To narrow the gap between excavated sherds and ancient meals, the approach adopted in this study starts by learning how food traditionally was processed, preserved, cooked, stored, and transported in clay containers. This research is based on the cookware and culinary practices in traditional societies in Cyprus and the Levant, where people still make pots by hand. Clay pots were not only to cook or hold foods. Their absorbent and permeable walls stored memories of food residue. Clay jars were automatic yogurt makers and fermentation vats for wine and beer, while jugs were the traditional water coolers and purifiers. Dairy foods, grains, and water lasted longer and/or tasted better when stored or prepared in clay pots. Biblical texts provide numerous terms for cookware without details of how they looked, how they were used, or why there are so many different words. Recent studies of potters for over a century in the southern Levant provide a wealth of names whose diversity helps to delineate the various categories of ancient cookware and names in the text. Ancient Cookware from the Levant begins with a description of five data sources: excavations, ancient and medieval texts, 20th century government reports, early accounts of potters, and ethnoarchaeological studies. The final section focuses on the shape, style, and manufacture of cookware for the past 12,000 years. For archaeologists, changes in cooking pot morphology offer important chronological information for dating entire assemblages, from Neolithic to recent times. The survey of pot shapes in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan presents how different shapes were made and used.