A. Introduction:


A hoard of lustre-painted and monochrome-glazed pieces was discovered in 1959 in a cave at Tell Minis, a village not far from Ma’arrat al-Nu’man, in Central Syria between Hama and Aleppo. They were C12th in date but did not relate to any of the conventional groupings of the time, ie. Egyptian "Fatimid" ware, North Syrian "Raqqa", Persian "Rayy" or "Kashan" ware. Lane regarded them as "provincial and artistically not of high quality" but admitted they had archaeological value since in the previous 120 years other similar pieces whose origin was also Syria had come onto Western art markets. However, they have frequently been confused with Fatimid lustreware.

They differ from later "Raqqa type" in that "Tell Minis" wares are finely potted with subtle decoration, in complete contrast to the coarser, bolder "Raqqa" ware. "Tell Minis" ware does not seem to have been found anywhere else in Syria, though no conclusions can be drawn from published material since it has been assumed that the "Tell Minis" pieces are the product of a single production centre but it is not known that is, so "Tell Minis" is used as a convenient lable. However, there is no evidence of local production at Tell Minis, though "Raqqa" wares and Persian imports have been found there which indicates the city imported from considerable distances away.


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