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A Pilgrim Flask of Anatolian Origin from Late Byzantine/Early Ummayyad Jerusalem

  • Aren M. Maeir (a1) and Yael Strauss (a1)


A large scale archaeological excavation was commenced in 1989, as part of the “Mamilla Project”, an urban re-development project carried out in the area to the west of Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, Israel (Fig. 2). During the course of the first (1989) season, several complexes of buildings dating from the Late Byzantine and Early Ummayad periods were discovered. These buildings were part of the extra-mural quarters of Jerusalem at the time, and for the most part, were industrial and mercantile in nature.

In area A2 of the excavations (Fig. 3), a row of shops was discovered. Of particular interest was the shop comprised of rooms L164 and L153, which contained several different types of installations, including what appeared to be washing basins and a bread-oven (Pl. XXXV (a)). In this shop a large collection of diverse finds was discovered, including a sizeable amount of local and imported pottery, coins, glass and additional small finds. This assemblage was securely dated to the mid-seventh century CE, i.e. the terminal Byzantine period and the incipient stages of the Ummayad dynasty.



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1 The excavations were conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority. The first stage of the project (excavation permit 1671) was directed by A.M.M, and was funded by the Carta co.. The staff that participated in the work in area A2 are: Area supervisor, E. Shukrun, assisted by Y. Bilig; Draftsman, B. Arubas; field photography, D. Adar; pottery analysis, J. Magness; glass analysis, Y. Gorin; numismatics, D. Z. Ariel; photography, C. Sagiv; drawing, N. Zeevi. Preliminary reports of the excavations have appeared in: Maeir, A., Jerusalem, : Mamilla, B, Hadashot Archeologiot 99 (1993), 5557 (in Hebrew); Idem, the excavations at Mamilla, stage I (1989), preliminary report, in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, H. Geva (ed.), Jerusalem, 1994, 299–305. The final report is forthcoming in the ‘Atiqot series. The second stage of excavations (1990–1993) was directed by R. Reich. Preliminary reports have appeared in Reich, R., Shukrun, E., & Bilig, Y., “Jerusalem—Mamilla Area”, Excavations and Surveys 10 (1991), 24–5; Idem, “Jerusalem: Mamilla (A)”, Hadashot Archeologiot 99 (1993), 54–5 (in Hebrew); Reich, R., “The ancient burial ground in the Mamilla neighbourhood, Jerusalem”, in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, Geva, H. (ed.), Jerusalem, 1994, 111–18. The photographs in Pl. XXXV are published courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The authors would like to thank the Israel Antiquities Authority and its director for assistance during the excavation and post-excavation stages. In addition, we are indebted to D. Barag, G. Foerster, O. R. Gurney and J. Magness, who read and critically commented on earlier versions of this paper. Needless to say, any mistakes or omissions are the authors' responsibility alone.

2 For a general discussion of the function of these objects, see Barag, D.: “Glass pilgrim vessels from Jerusalem, part I”, Journal of Glass Studies 12 (1970), 3563 (esp. 47–8). For a more recent discussion (and additional bibliography), see Hahn, C., “Loca sancta souvenirs: sealing the pilgrim's experience”, in The blessings of pilgrimage, Ousterhout, R., (ed.), Urbana 1990, 8596. We would like to thank Prof. G. Foerster for bringing this last study to our attention.

3 Field number 3033.

4 They include the well-known collection of metal ampullae preserved at the cathedrals of Monza and Bobbio in northern Italy (Grabar, A., Ampoules de Terre Sainte (Monza-Bobbio), Paris, 1958); the glass bottles discussed by Barag (supra, n. 2); a local Jerusalem-made group (Magness, J., Jerusalem Ceramic Chronology, C. 200–800 CE, Sheffield, 1993, 259), and one from Nazareth (Rahmani, L. Y., “Two Early Christian Ampullae” in Israel Exploration Journal 16, 1966, 71–4). Cf. in general the works cited in n. 2, as well as Hirschfeld, Y., The Judaean Desert Monasteries in the Byzantine Period, New Haven 1992, 105; Vikan, G. in Tesserae: Festschrift für Josef Engeman, Dessman, E. (ed.), Münster, 1991, 7492, esp. 84.

5 See Barag, op. cit. and Rahmani, op. cit.

6 See Magness, supra n. 4. Currently, neutron activation analysis of the ampulla and other pottery from the excavations is being conducted by Prof. J. Yellin and the first author (A.M.M.) at the Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and will be published jointly in the future.

7 Metzger, C., Les ampoules à eulogies du Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1981, 1722.

8 Robert, L., “Documents d'Asie Mineure”, BCH 108 (1994), 458–67.

9 Duncan-Flowers, M., “An ampulla from the shrine of St. John”, in The Blessings of Pilgrimage, Ousterhout, R. (ed.), Urbana 1990, 125–39.

10 Metzger, op. cit. p. 22.

11 The wares that were found in this locus are “Constantinopolitan lead-glazed ware” and “mica-dusted ware”. These vessels are discussed in detail in the chapter on the pottery of the site by J. Magness to be published in the forthcoming report and have been noted in brief in a lecture given by her at the 19th annual Byzantine Studies conference at Princeton in November 1993.

12 For the recently uncovered Armenian quarter in Jerusalem, see Amit, D. and Wolff, S., “An Armenian monastery in the Morasha neighbourhood, Jerusalem”, in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, Geva, H. (ed.), Jerusalem, 1994, 293–8.

13 Kautsch, A., Kapitellstudien. Beiträge zu einer Geschichte des spätantiken Kapitells im Osten vom vierten bis siebenten Jahrhundert, Berlin 1936, 100.

14 Weitzmann, K.The Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai: the Icons. I: from the sixth to the tenth century, Princeton, 1976, 6.

15 After this article was submitted, a study appeared (Lambert, C. & Demeglio, P. P., “Ampolle Devozionali ed Itinerari di Pellegrinaggio tra IV e VII Secolo”, Antique Tardive 2 (1994), 205231), summarizing the distribution of the Byzantine ampullae and their relationship to the pilgrimage routes. The uniqueness of our find is corroborated in this study.

A Pilgrim Flask of Anatolian Origin from Late Byzantine/Early Ummayyad Jerusalem

  • Aren M. Maeir (a1) and Yael Strauss (a1)


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