Jars and Jar Stands

Many of the jars from Ancient Israel have a rounded base. “How practical is that?” we may ask. Could they stand upright? We have to remember that many houses would have dirt floors, not smooth tile floors. It would have been easier to find some depression to conveniently lodge a jar. And many of the jars with a rounded base would have contained liquids. It is easier to slowly tip these jars and pour out however much was required.
We also found jar stands. Jars could be conveniently placed in these open jar stands and would stand upright. This jar stand was found whole at Tell Halif.

The first photo is by Paul Jacobs from Mississippi State University. Photos of all major finds from Fields I, II, and IV at Tell Halif can be found on-line at Digmaster. The pages also give a basic excavation report, with links to detailed pottery and artifact analysis.

This entry was posted in Archaeology, artifacts, Tell Halif and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Jars and Jar Stands

  1. Anneke Berkheij says:

    That question I was also wondering about. Your solutions seem quite reasonable to me for I came up with that too. Only one question stil remains for me. Why did they also use so many smal jugs with a rounded base? Quite unpractical while unnecessary for pooring out liquid.

    • Tim Frank says:

      I since have changed my views somewhat. In the early 20th century in Palestine many households were using straw rings to hold the jars upright. Since we only find few jar stands it seems likely that these straw rings were also used in ancient times. As some of the liquids probably seeped through the pottery, such straw stands would have been ideal to soak up such seepage.

      I am not really sure about the small jugs. I think the small juglets most likely were used as dipper juglets to take liquids out of the jar and pour into something else. The rounded base would not have been a hindrance for that. I think it would be a worthwhile experiment to see whether the rounded base would have any advantage for a dipper juglet (less dripping for example). Marks on the “dipper” juglets, as well as ethnographic evidence, support the conclusion that these small juglets were used as such dipper juglets.
      The larger jugs usually (at least as far as I can remember) had a slightly rounded base – that is they were nearly flat – or a ring base. They could be placed on the ground. Still, I’m not quite sure why none of the pottery had a flat base. One explanation may be simply the pottery throwing (making) technique.

      • Anneke Berkheij says:

        Thanks for your comments. About the dipper juglets: It seems very practical to me that the dipper juglets were kept on top of the jar they belonged to (the jar from which they were used to take out the liquid).I think I saw this somewhere. The dipper juglets could also serve as stoppers too and the dripping liquid would drip back into the large jar. In that case the rounded bottom would be very convenient.
        Indeed the less satisfying is the solution for the middle size jars and jugs. If the round base is because of the potters technique, I do not see why they did not make a ring of clay, a ring base, under al the jars so that they could stand independent and stable.

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