Late Roman Workshops of Beit Nattif Figurines: Petrography, Typology, and Style


Image: Sample 2, Beit Nattif: figurine featuring a head with sidelocks. (Digital scan by A. Bogdanovsky)

BASOR No. 376, Novemberarticle, “Late Roman Workshops of Beit Nattif Figurines: Petrography, Typology, and StyleArchaeology Returns to Ur: A New Dialog with Old Houses,” by Anat Cohen-Weinberger (Israel Antiquities Authority) and Achim Lichtenberger (Ruhr-Universität Bochum).

In 1936, Dimitri Baramki published an assemblage of oil lamps and figurines that he had excavated in two cisterns at Beit Nattif in southern Judaea. This rich assemblage, which was waste material from a workshop, was the starting point to characterize a Beit Nattif style. This article discusses late Roman figurines from Beit Nattif and figurines from other places in the Beit Nattif style, which were petrographically analyzed for the first time. In total, 35 samples were taken, and the clay used to make the products found in the cisterns was identified. Additionally, Beit Nattif–style figurines from other excavations were analyzed. While some of these were made of clay from the Taqiye Formation, others originated from different sources. Since a number of the Beit Nattif–style figurines are also stylistically slightly different from the material from the cisterns in Beit Nattif, it is clear that there were several workshops in southern Judaea producing figurines in the Beit Nattif style. It is also argued, however, that Beit Nattif was a center for production, as figurines from there made their way to the north, even as far as Megiddo.