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The Development of the Pottery Kiln in Iran from Prehistoric to Historical Periods - article ; n°1 ; vol.3, pg 207-221

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Paléorient - Année 1975 - Volume 3 - Numéro 1 - Pages 207-221
This is an attempt to study the earliest known pottery kiln in Iran and its development from the earliest times to the beginning of the historical period. Through ethnographical observations made by J.R. Caldwell and H.E. Wulffwe were able to fill up a good deal of missing archaeological information. Archaeological evidence was provided from various excavations in different geographical regions and different periods, beginning with the 10th century A.D. Islamic pottery kilns from Siraf on the Iranian coast of Persian Gulf, and ending with the study of a late seventh millennium B.C. kiln at Djaffarabad in the plain of Khuzestan, excavated by G. Dollfus. The result of ethnographic and archaeological study has led to a fairly logical reconstruction of prehistoric pottery kilns in Iran: (1) the variety of types; (2) the material used in different parts of a kiln structure; and (3) the problem of the superstructure (firing chamber). The evidence has shown that in most cases the superstructure which once stood above the perforated grate was not a permanent structure but a temporary one. It was applied to the top of the piled up pots before firing is started and torn down after the firing is terminated. One should, however, keep in mind that our description and analysis of the ancient kilns is, of course, limited by variations in preservation, and in the techniques of excavations and publications.
Cet essai a pour objet l'étude des plus anciens fours de potier en Iran et le développement de leur utilisation depuis les premiers temps jusqu'à l'époque historique. Grâce aux observations ethnographiques fournies par J.R. Caldwell et H.E. Wulff, il nous a été possible de combler en grande partie les lacunes archéologiques. Les données archéologiques nous ont été fournies par des fouilles variées, en des périodes et régions géographiques différentes. Les plus récents documents utilisés sont les fours islamiques de Siraf, ville sur la côte iranienne du Golfe persique et le plus ancien, un four datant de la fin du septième millénaire av. J.C., fouillé par G. Dollfus à Djaffarabad dans la plaine du Khuzistan. Les résultats des études ethnographiques et archéologiques nous ont permis une reconstitution des fours préhistoriques de potier en Iran : Nous présentons successivement : (1) les types variés ; (2) les matériaux utilisés dans les différentes parties du four ; et (3) les problèmes de la superstructure (la chambre de chauffe). Il a été démontré que, dans la plupart des cas, la super structure qui, jadis, se trouvait au dessus de la sole perforée, n'était pas une structure permanente mais temporaire. Elle était appliquée au-dessus des vases empilés avant le début de la cuisson et détruite à sa fin. Bien sûr, nos descriptions et notre analyse ont été déterminées par l'état de préservation variable des fours et les différentes techniques employées lors des fouilles et publications.
15 pages
Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.

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Y. Majidzadeh
The Development of the Pottery Kiln in Iran from Prehistoric to
Historical Periods
In: Paléorient. 1975, Vol. 3. pp. 207-221.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Majidzadeh Y. The Development of the Pottery Kiln in Iran from Prehistoric to Historical Periods. In: Paléorient. 1975, Vol. 3. pp.
207-221.
doi : 10.3406/paleo.1975.4197
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/paleo_0153-9345_1975_num_3_1_4197Abstract
This is an attempt to study the earliest known pottery kiln in Iran and its development from the earliest
times to the beginning of the historical period. Through ethnographical observations made by J.R.
Caldwell and H.E. Wulffwe were able to fill up a good deal of missing archaeological information.
Archaeological evidence was provided from various excavations in different geographical regions and
different periods, beginning with the 10th century A.D. Islamic pottery kilns from Siraf on the Iranian
coast of Persian Gulf, and ending with the study of a late seventh millennium B.C. kiln at Djaffarabad in
the plain of Khuzestan, excavated by G. Dollfus. The result of ethnographic and archaeological study
has led to a fairly logical reconstruction of prehistoric pottery kilns in Iran: (1) the variety of types; (2) the
material used in different parts of a kiln structure; and (3) the problem of the superstructure (firing
chamber). The evidence has shown that in most cases the superstructure which once stood above the
perforated grate was not a permanent structure but a temporary one. It was applied to the top of the
piled up pots before firing is started and torn down after the firing is terminated. One should, however,
keep in mind that our description and analysis of the ancient kilns is, of course, limited by variations in
preservation, and in the techniques of excavations and publications.
Résumé
Cet essai a pour objet l'étude des plus anciens fours de potier en Iran et le développement de leur
utilisation depuis les premiers temps jusqu'à l'époque historique. Grâce aux observations
ethnographiques fournies par J.R. Caldwell et H.E. Wulff, il nous a été possible de combler en grande
partie les lacunes archéologiques. Les données archéologiques nous ont été fournies par des fouilles
variées, en des périodes et régions géographiques différentes. Les plus récents documents utilisés sont
les fours islamiques de Siraf, ville sur la côte iranienne du Golfe persique et le plus ancien, un four
datant de la fin du septième millénaire av. J.C., fouillé par G. Dollfus à Djaffarabad dans la plaine du
Khuzistan. Les résultats des études ethnographiques et archéologiques nous ont permis une
reconstitution des fours préhistoriques de potier en Iran : Nous présentons successivement : (1) les
types variés ; (2) les matériaux utilisés dans les différentes parties du four ; et (3) les problèmes de la
superstructure (la chambre de chauffe). Il a été démontré que, dans la plupart des cas, la super
structure qui, jadis, se trouvait au dessus de la sole perforée, n'était pas une structure permanente mais
temporaire. Elle était appliquée au-dessus des vases empilés avant le début de la cuisson et détruite à
sa fin. Bien sûr, nos descriptions et notre analyse ont été déterminées par l'état de préservation variable
des fours et les différentes techniques employées lors des fouilles et publications.:
PALEORIENT Vol. 3 1975-1976-1977
DEVELOPMENT THE
OF THE POTTERY KILN IN IRAN
FROM PREHISTORIC
TO HISTORICAL PERIODS
Y. MAJIDZADEH
ABSTRACT. - This is an attempt to study the earliest known pottery kiln in Iran and its development from the earliest times to
the beginning of the historical period. Through ethnographical observations made by J.R. Caldwell and H.E. Wulffwe were able to
fill up a good deal of missing archaeological information. Archaeological evidence was provided from various excavations in diffe
rent geographical regions and different periods, beginning with the 10th century A.D. Islamic pottery kilns from Siraf on the Ira
nian coast of Persian Gulf, and ending with the study of a late seventh millennium B.C. kiln at Djaffarabad in the plain of Khuzes-
tan, excavated by G. Dollfus. The result of ethnographic and archaeological study has led to a fairly logical reconstruction of pre
historic pottery kilns in Iran: (1) the variety of types; (2) the material used in different parts of a kiln structure; and (3) the
problem of the superstructure (firing chamber). The evidence has shown that in most cases the superstructure which once stood
above the perforated grate was not a permanent structure but a temporary one. It was applied to the top of the piled up pots
before firing is started and torn down after the firing is terminated. One should, however, keep in mind that our description and
analysis of the ancient kilns is, of course, limited by variations in preservation, and in the techniques of excavations and publi
cations.
RESUME. — Cet essai a pour objet l'étude des plus anciens fours de potier en Iran et le développement de leur utilisation depuis
les premiers temps jusqu'à l'époque historique. Grâce aux observations ethnographiques fournies par J.R. Caldwell et H.E. Wulff,
il nous a été possible de combler en grande partie les lacunes archéologiques. Les données archéologiques nous ont été fournies par
des fouilles variées, en des périodes et régions géographiques différentes. Les plus récents documents utilisés sont les fours isl
amiques de Siraf, ville sur la côte iranienne du Golfe persique et le plus ancien, un four datant de la fin du septième millénaire av.
J.C., fouillé par G. Dollfus à Djaffarabad dans la plaine du Khuzistan. Les résultats des études ethnographiques et archéologiques
nous ont permis une reconstitution des fours préhistoriques de potier en Iran : Nous présentons successivement (1) les types
variés ; (2) les matériaux utilisés dans les différentes parties du four ; et (3) les problèmes de la superstructure (la chambre de
chauffe). Il a été démontré que, dans la plupart des cas, la super structure qui, jadis, se trouvait au dessus de la sole perforée,
n'était pas une structure permanente mais temporaire. Elle était appliquée au-dessus des vases empilés avant le début de la cuisson
et détruite à sa fin. Bien sûr, nos descriptions et notre analyse ont été déterminées par l'état de préservation variable des fours
et les différentes techniques employées lors des fouilles et publications.
Probably the most important revolution in human Thus, our description and analysis of the ancient kilns
life was the discovery of technological uses of fire. It is, of course, limited by variations in preservation, and
began with the use of fire to transmute soft clay into in the techniques of excavations and publication. Moreo
a hard substance; clay was shaped in the form of pots ver, some highly pertinent factors such as types of
to serve a variety of purposes, and sickles were made fuels, are not likely to be recoverable by archaeological
for agricultural activities. A constant and increasing means. Accordingly, in dealing with ancient kilns it is
need for pottery directed man to the invention of the
pottery kiln, which gradually led him to the technique
to this important subject. Besides describing his excavated of increasing the firing temperature for smelting and
kiln in full detail, he has made ethnographical observations casting metal. The technological uses of fire eventually in one of the pottery workshops in the bazaar of Kashan. See brought innumerable innovations and changes in man's CALDWELL 1967, 397, fig. 25 on p. 296. life: bricks were baked and monumental architecture Another study which pays attention to the typology of was erected, metal was turned into a variety of tools, kilns was done by Sir Lindsay Scott, (1954, 391-6). He makes
implements, and weapons. Thus, pyrotechnology had a typological classification and draws conclusions on kiln deve
lopment in the world. However, his entire discussion is based an intimate connection with every technological develop on only two excavated examples from Iran, two Egyptian ment in ancient man's life. examples; one a wall painting and the other a model from
a tomb at Sakkara, a representation on a black -figured clay From this perspective, the purpose of this article
plaque from Greece, and five more examples from different is to study the earliest known pottery kilns in Iran parts of the world. and its development from the earliest times to the The most recent and the most detailed work dedicated beginning of the historical period. One should, however, to the study of the evolution and the typology of pottery
keep in mind that the number of excavated kilns which kilns known from various archaeological excavations in the
Near East (from Afghanistan-Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, have so far been published is few, and the examples
Mesopotamia, and Syria-Palestine), however, belongs to do not represent all periods. Furthermore, the descrip Gilbert Delcroix and Jean-Louis Huot (cf., 1972, 35-95). In tions of most of the kilns known are very brief (1). this study six prehistoric kilns from different regions of the
Iranian plateau (Sialk,Bakun, Susa, Tureng Tepe, Chogha Zanbil,
and Tall-i-Iblis) have been studied. But as will become apparent
(1) Joseph R. CALDWELL is one of the few archaeologists in in this paper, our results differ considerably from the conclu
the field of Iranian archaeology who has paid much attention sions of Delcroix and Huot.
207 POTTERY KILN IN IRAN
very useful to consider modern ones. Therefore we will It is a small kiln, 2.40 m in diameter and 1.50 m in
start with a few ethnological observations made by height with an entrance to the firing chamber 75 cm
R. Caldwell in the bazaar of Kashan, a city in the Iranian high. At the top of the domed roof a chimney, 30 cm
central plateau, and by H.E. Wulff on a number of in diameter, allows the hot gases escape. The entire
modern pottery kilns in different parts of Iran, and kiln is constructed of mud-bricks. A small and shallow
then with this knowledge in mind try to go back in firebox with three or four small openings is built at
time. ground level. The small doorway to the firing chamber
is blocked up before each firing.
Two more kilns, reported in full detail, are very
MODERN KILNS IN IRAN interesting. One of them is built in the fashion of regular
down-draft type kilns, but instead of having the
Caldwell describes two kilns in the courtyard of chimneys on the top, they are arranged at the foot of
a potter's shop in the bazaar of Kashan as follows: the circular firing chamber (4). Therefore, the hot gases,
instead of roaring rapidly upward and reaching the open "One of the two kilns was built above ground, air, have to circulate slowly around in order to find the other, of the shaft type, was built below the surface. their way out through the chimneys at ground level. The underground furnace has a cylinder shape shaft The slow movement of the hot gases causes a more lined with bricks. . . Four meters below the surface even distribution of heat throughout the kiln. As a there is a grate, about 2.5 m. in diameter, with circular result the pottery in this type of kiln receives an even holes at the edge. Below the grate is the firebox, more surface coloring (5). Another interesting feature of than one meter in height, which is fed from a cellar, this kiln —the two round firing chambers inside of a the fuel being wood and oil. This kiln is used for firing large vaulted room— has only, in my opinion, economic large vessels. reasons. The firing chambers stand on ground level and The shaft of the above-ground kiln is cone shaped, the single firebox for both is accessible through a about 1.30 m at the opening, which is three meters single stoke-hole. Another feature of this kiln is the above the grate. The gate is circular, 1.5 m in diameter several rows of shelves inside the firing chamber for with 14 holes along the rim. . . The raw vessels are holding the unbaked pottery. This kiln is reported put in, and are fired several times, 24 hours of heating from Shahreza, a ceramic center near the city of and 48 hours to cool." (2) Isfahan. A similar device is also reported from Kashan:
Wulff also points out that large kilns are for firing ". . . the kilns had many shelves formed by ceramic pegs." large vessels with thick wall and gives a section drawing slabs which rested on clay The fuel used (6) of such a kiln(3). The firebox is dug below the ground, in these kilns is mostly dry brush wood, wild almond,
with a stoke-hole reached by a few steps. The plan and willow.
of the entire кДп is rectangular. The stoke-hole is located In order to link the modern ethnograpic information in one of the short walls. The firing chamber is cons with what is known of prehistoric kilns a few examples tructed at ground level. Since the grate is made in the of kilns from the historical epoch will be given. form of an arch, it requires no support. There are about
75 holes distributed evenly over the surface of the
grate. The side walls of the firing chamber are built
up straight and then covered with a rounded vaulted
roof. On the tops of the long walls on which the vault (4) Ibid., fig. 239. rests there are 5 or 6 chimneys on either side. An arched (5) This type of horizontal down-draft and especially the
doorway to the firing chamber is provided in one of the next kiln from Bidokht in Khorasan, the northeastern province
of Iran, shown on fig. 240, must have come from somewhere long walls. This doorway is blocked up before each
else, possibly from China during or after the Safavid Dynasty firing. (16th century A.D. or later). The Harvard University excavaAnother type of kiln is reported from Gilan, a pro tions at Chiu Chen have revealed horizontal down-draft kilns
vince along the southwest shore of the Caspian Sea. from the time of the later Han Dynasty (first two centuries
A.D.). See JANSE, O. "Archaeological Research in Indo-China,"
Vol. I, p. 60, Pis CXXXVIII-CLIX. Harvard-Yenching Institute,
Monograph Series Vol. 7 (Harvard University Press, Cambridge,
(2) CALDWELL, 1967, 397, fig. 25 on p. 396. Mass., 1947). Also see SCOTT 1954, 393, fig. 240.
(3) WULFF 1966, 159 fig. 238. (6) WULFF 1966, 160, n. 161.
208 POTTERY KILN IN IRAN
in Susa. According to him these kilns fall into two prinPOTTERY KILNS FROM SIRAF (Islamic: 10th century
cipal categories. No further description has been given, A.D.) but a rough sketch of both types indicates that they
were down-draft kilns. The fireboxes were separated The site of Siraf, modern Taheri, lies on the Iranian
from the firing chambers by perforated grates and coast of the Persian Gulf, 220 km southeast of Bushehr
had irregular shapes (11), but the grates were circuand about 380 km west-northwest of Bandar Abbas.
lar-one of them 1.30 m and the other one meter in It was a large Islamic city inhabited during three periods.
diameter. In both cases the fireboxes were sunk into Period I, the earliest, began about 800 A.D. and period
the ground and the grates were placed at ground level. III, the latest, is dated to the late 1 lth century A.D. (7).
During the fourth season of excavations at Siraf, r
emains of thirty kilns were excavated (8). In general,
POTTERY KILN FROM SUSA (Median Period) two principal types of kilns were distinguished by D.
Witehouse: "kilns with a pit for the fire and an upper
Mecquenem also reports in another couple of lines chamber to contain the pottery" (9). The double-
a rectangular kiln from the Neo-Babylonian period (12). kiln was more common. The firebox was
It was six meters long and two meters wide, and a usually up to five meters long and two meters deep.
circular grate, one meter in diameter, covered the A sloping stoke-hole gave access to the bottom of the
firebox. A cross of perforated holes in the grate allowed firebox. The fireboxes were either oval or circular in the hot gases to ascend from the firebox into the firing shape with remains of burned plaster. The perforated chamber. No drawing or measurements are given. grates were constructed of stone and clay which often
was mixed with pot-sherds and wasters. In one case
the grate was reinforced with pipes and in another POTTERY KILN FROM TALL-I-IBLIS (Iron Age), one mud-bricks were used. All the grates were perfo (fig. 1: 1 and la) rated. Although Whitehouse does not describe the
central supports for the grates, one of his photographs Tall-i-Iblis lies in southwestern Iran in the Bard-Sir shows a narrow "partition" projecting from the firebox Valley of the Kerman Mountains, and contains remains wall across two-thirds of the chamber, thus providing of prehistoric, as well as historical, cultural deposits. a stable support for the grate. The floor of the firing The mound is 118 m long and 100 m wide. It once chamber was at ground level and nothing of its super stood some llm above the ground level of the surroundistructure has survived, but the excavator assumes that ng area. There, a large pottery kiln of the late second it was built of clay and rubble. The second type of millennium B.C. was unearthed by J.R. Caldwell (13). kiln was smaller in size and had a circular chamber. No The kiln consisted of a firing chamber with a firebox measurements have been given. Each kiln had a fire-pit underneath. The firing chamber was rectangular in shape at the bottom. The interior side walls were perforated and measured 1.70 by 1.60 m. All four corners were with numerous holes. The appearance of several fra rounded. The walls of the firing chamber were preserved gmentary clay bars in situ indicates that these holes up to 1.10 m. They were curved slightly inward. The originally contained earthenware bars, on which the reconstruction has shown that only 60 cm of the top pots were stacked (10). part of the superstructure was destroyed. The walls
of the firing chamber were built of mud-bricks and lined
with mud-plaster, which owing to the frequent use of POTTERY KILNS FROM SUSA (Sasanian Period) the kiln for baking pottery has changed from its original (fig. 1:5) color to red and orange. The floor of the firing chamber
was a clay grate with regular perforations. The opening Mecquenem mentions in two lines the discovery of the firebox was placed outside the north wall of the of several potter's kilns from the Sasanian period
(11) MECQUENEM 1934, 207, figs. 49 and 50. (7) WHITEHOUSE 1968, 12-3, fig. 7, pi. V, c, d. (12) Ibid., 207-8. (8)1971, p. 15, pis. Va and VIb.
{9) Ibid., 15. (13) CALDWELL 1967, 272-8, pi. I on p. 276 and figs. 3
and 4 respectively on pp. 277 and 279. (10) WULLF 1966, 160, n. 161.
209 .
.
.
1
POTTERY KILN IN IRAN
FIG. 1
1 and la. CALDWELL J 3 on p. 277 R., 1967, fig 2 . TOSIM., 1969, p fig. 27. 41, MECQUENEM R. 3 1934, p. 203, .42. de, fig ► 4 . GOFFC.,1963,p .49 , fig. 6. R. 5 1934, p. 208, .50. de, fig
POTTERY KILNS FROM TEPE RUD-BIYABAN 2
was and chamber. originally 1.40 The m deep. firebox supported The itself roof by was four of the 3 or m possibly firebox long, 1.80 (the five m grate) transwide, NEAR SHAHR-I-SOKHTA (MIDDLE BRONZE
AGE)
verse arches. Each arch was separated from the next
one by a space of ten centimeters. The first and the Shahr-i-Sokhta is located some 50 km. south of
the city of Zabol. About 25 km. to the south of Shahr- last arches, beside supporting the grate, also supported
i-Sokhta lies Tepe Rud-i-Biyaban, a small mound which respectively the northern and the southern walls of
contained 50 large and small pottery kilns spread over the firing chamber. The first arch, which was next to
the entire area(16). All the kilns were thickly covered the entrance or the stoke-hole, was higher than the
others. Each side of the arch was built of one row of with wasters and pottery slag. Four of these kilns were
cleaned in 1969. Kilns Nos. 1 and 3 had only one vertical bricks 43 x 40 x 10 cm.
chamber. Their walls were vitrified because of high The layers of charred wood inside the firebox appear
firing, and they were vaulted. The floors of these kilns ed to consist of twigs and small branches. The radio
were lined with bricks. The other kilns (Nos. 2 and 4), carbon determination indicated a date of 1100 + 120
according to Tosi, has in contrast to kilns 1 and 3, two B.C. This result was supported by a burned fragment
firing chambers, which were divided by a vitrified partiof ceramic found in the firebox which is similar to
tion projecting from the wall of the firing chamber and those dated around 1 100 B.C.
extending to an average of 5.50 m. These large kilns
were twice as large as the other two(17).
Five more kilns were unearthed during the season of POTTERY KILN FROM CHOGHA ZANBIL
(MIDDLE ELAMITE PERIOD, 1 300 B.C.) 1970(18). Approximately all fall into two groups. They
were either single -chamber or double-chamber. Regardl
ess of the number of the chambers, each kiln had a The Chogha Zanbil kiln was found in the northern
corner of the courtyard of the Hishmitik and Ruhuratir rectangular layout, a long stoke-hole with sloping floor,
a small entry, and two chimneys. All the Tepe Rudi-i temple. It is a double-chamber kiln with a rectangular
Biyaban 2 kilns were vertical down-draft. layout, 1.76 m. long and 1.64 m. wide. The firebox is
sunk into the ground 1.20 m deep. A stokehole is also The pottery collected in the area of these kilns is
dug into the with its opening at ground level dated to Shahr-i-Sokhta Period III of late third millen
and surrounded on the outside by a row of baked nium B.C.
bricks(14). One possible explanation for the appear According to Tosi, Tepe Rud-i-Biyaban 2 was a
ance of these bricks around the opening of the stoke pottery manufacturing settlement and met the needs of
hole is to prevent the entry of strong winds which the surrounding regions by exporting pottery. There are, could easily increase the firing temperature way above however, other pottery workshops found in Shahr-i-
a desirable level. The grate is supported by baked- Sokhta itself and at a mound, 3 km. east, called Tepe
brick arch; thus no central pillar was necessary to Riakes. Besides, there are many single, isolated kilns
support the grate. Although Ghirshman has assumed a located on several surrounding mounds. If these small
vaulted superstructure for this complex no traces of localities around Shahr-i-Sokhta were making their own
such a cover have been found. A large amount of ashes, pottery, as is indicated by the presence of pottery
carbonized bone and sherds were collected from the kilns everywhere, the question will be whether the
bottom of the kiln( 15). pottery production of Rud-i-Biyaban was being exported
to more distant areas.
Since the kilns from Tepe Rud-i-Biyaban are describ
ed very briefly, their exact type cannot be determined
(14) GHIRSHMAN 1968, 30, 34 ; fig. 11 on p. 29 and
pi. XXV, 3.
(15) There are several uncertainties in the drawing of this (16) TOSI 1969,29-41. kiln, one of which has already been discussed by Delcroix and (17)1970 189. Huot (cf., 1972, 54). The vertical line extending down from (18) TOSI 1972 175. Because of the briefness of the report, the grate, but not reaching the floor of the firebox hardly Tosi does not mention whether all of these kilns were built seems to correspond to any real feature. Here we would expect
partially below-ground level or whether some were above- the stoke-hole to be the extention of the firebox with no par
ground tition wall or block between them.
210 1 m.
211 KILN IN IRAN POTTERY
ed at Tall-i-Bakun(23). But that could not be the case at precisely, and we must wait for more detailed publica
Tureng Tepe since we know that here the opening of tions. However, one can disagree with the description
the stoke-hole was located at the level of the grate, and of the large kilns as possessing two firing chambers.
from there sloped down diagonally toward the bottom Since the structures so refered to are below ground
of the firebox. Had the kiln been entirely above ground, level and on a very large scale they have to be fireboxes.
the stoke-hole would have opened directly on the side Furthermore, by analogy with kilns such as those at
wall of the firebox. Siraf, the partition wall is merely the support of the
grate than a wall dividing two chambers. The actual
firing chamber must have stood above ground level on
top of the grate. The second type, which was smaller
in size, either had a free standing grate like the small
kiln from Kashan(19) or, like those from Siraf, had
only a single pit functioning as both firebox and firing POTTERY KILN FROM SUSA (CHALCOLITHIC
chamber(20). PERIOD-EARLY FOURTH MILLENNIUM B.C.).
(fig. 1:3)
Mecquenem reports an early kiln from the Susa A
period found at Susa. It was circular, 1.75 m. in diameter POTTERY KILN FROM TURENG TEPE (MIDDLE The entire kiln was built above ground level. The firebox BRONZE AGE) was about 90 cm. high, which stood the grate with
45 perforations, each one 8 cm. in diameter. A much Deshayes reports very briefly a pottery kiln from larger hole in the grate has been called a chimney by Tureng Tepe, a prehistoric mound at the southeast Mecquenem. The fuel was fed through a round hole corner of the Caspian Sea(21). It is a circular down- (stoke-hole) in the side wall of the firebox. Nothing draft kiln. The grate with its concentric perforations of the firing chamber had survived. Some slightly curved still stood at ground level. The firebox was dug to unbaked bricks have been found near the kiln, and the 1.30 m. below level. The diameter of the grate, excavator thinks that they belonged to the now missing as reported, was a little more than the depth of the firing chamber (2 5). firebox. The stoke-hole sloped from the surface level
down into the firebox.
Deshayes originally dated this kiln to Hissar IIIB
(ca 2 200-2 000 B.C.), because the grate was located
in the level corresponding to the Hissar IIIB period.
But after cleaning the entire kiln, he noticed that the
firebox was placed in the lower level, therefore, he
decided that the kiln belonged to an earlier stage. (23)LANGSDORF and McCOWN 1942, 6, figs. 5 and 6.
In the redating Deshayes seems to have been misled by (24) MECQUENEM 1934, 204, fig. 42. Also see Scott
1954, 294, fig. 244. the placement of the firebox below ground level. But (25)DELCROIX and HUOT also believe that these unbaked like the majority of the kilns, the firebox was dug in bricks were part of the walls of the firing chamber. Apparently the ground and only firing chamber stood above the de Mecquenem, the excavator, and Delcroix-Huot, in assigning ground. Therefore, since the grate was constructed these bricks to the original construction of the firing chamber,
have been misled by the slight curvature of the fragmentary at the level corresponding to Hissar IIIB, the kiln must
unbaked bricks. The use of bricks in the construction of the have belonged to that level. One may argue that possibly superstructure of a pottery kiln, as we shall discuss in the conclusthe entire kiln had been built above ground like the ion, would classify it as a kiln with permanent superstructure, small kiln in the bazaar of Kashan(22) or those as has already been seen at Tall-i-Iblis. In such cases, as result
of constant use of the kiln for baking pottery the interior
surface of the originally unbaker bricks used in the construc
tion of the firing chamber, as well as the firebox, would have
become baked. However, according to de Mecquenem the (19) CALDWELL 1967, 397, fig. 25 on p. 396. curved bricks were unbaked and therefore they could not have (20) WHITEHOUSE 1971 , 15, pis. Va and VIb. been parts of the firing chamber of the Susa kiln and one cannot (21) DESHAYES 1966, 4, pi. IV, fig. 14. consider it as one with a permanent firing chamber. See (22) CALDWELL 1967, 397, fig. 25 on p. 396. DELCROIX and HUOT 1972, 52.
212 POTTERY KILN IN IRAN
needed in such large-scale structures. The fact is that at POTTERY KILNS FROM TALL-I-NOKHODI
Tall-i-Nokhodi we are facing a different type of pottery (FIFTH AND FOURTH MILLENNIA B.C.).
kiln. Here, instead of having a firing chamber on the top (Fig 1:4) of the firebox, the two appear to be arranged side by
side within the oval kiln wall and for that reason no Tall-i-Nokhodi lies some 800 m. northwest of the
perforated grate or supporting pillar was needed. The tomb of Cyras at Pasargadae, on the edge of the small
deep portion of these structures which has been describwatercourse that joins the Pulvar River. It is a
ed as an "ash pit" or "ash box" should be considered mound, 120 m. long and 80 m. wide. It rises only a
as the firebox. All nine kilns had openings (stoke-holes) little more than two meters above the level of the
directly in front of their fireboxes. The higher flat, surrounding plain(26). Eight and possibly nine "ovens"
smooth and plastered floor of the kilns was thus the are reported by С Goff, the excavator, one from level
firing chamber. The tops of the walls, as Goff also has I, the latest; one from level II; three from levels Illb,
pointed out, must have been covered with a temporary IVa and IVb; and, finally, three and probably four from
dome or vault before each firing. the earliest phase, level IVc.
The six completely excavated "ovens" from levels III In addition to the unusual form of the Tall-i-Nokhodi
and IV are described as follows: structures, no wasters were associated with them. This
circumstance could be used as an argument against The best preserved oven was that in IVa. . . It was
considering them as pottery kilns. However, the absence oval in plan with slightly flattened sides, measuring
of such remains in the vicinity of a structure by no 1.80 m. in width and 2.20 m. in length. It consisted
means necessarily casts doubt on its function as a of a large, flat baking plate which sloped slightly towards
pottery baking kiln. Obviously after each firing there the front, composed of two layers of very hard, very
was always a relatively heavy rubbish consisting of the smooth, blackish plaster, each 15 to 20 mm. thick. To
dismantled temporary superstructure and wasters and the south was an unplastered ash box, 50 cm. wide and
ashes. These would have had to be removed and dumped about 20 cm. deep. On either side of the oven were
possibly into a pit; otherwise the accumulation of debris mud-brick walls which, on Tall-i-Bakun analogies,
would have soon made it impossible to use the kiln or should have provided support for a domed roof. The
the working area nearby. Indeed the presence or the walls were lined with a thick layer of orange plaster
absence of wasters in or outside of kilns depended on which curved gently down to join the plaster of the
individual circumstances. The presence of wasters baking-plate. A carefully plastered "pot stand" was
indicates that for some reason the potter had used the attached to the north wall. The entrance was in front
kiln for the last time, and did not, therefore, clean out of the ash pit (27).
the rubbish inside it. The absence of such debris, on Goff has dated levels I and II to 3 500-3 200 B.C.;
the other hand, indicates that there was no intention presumably the earlier levels III and IV should be dated
to abandon the kiln. The potter had already cleaned it around the early fourth millennium B.C. Although on
out in preparation for another firing, which for some two occasions she uses the Bakun kiln as a comparison
unexpected reason was never carried out. Obviously, for the Tall-i-Nokhodi structures, she calls them ovens,
sometimes after cleaning a kiln, a few scattered presumably because of the following differences fragments of wasters could easily remain in or around it. between them and those pottery kilns known already
at the time of her publication(29). These are the lack
of (a) any traces of a grate separating the firebox from POTTERY KILNS FROM TALL-I-BAKUN A the firing chamber and of (b) any sort of pillar to (EARLY FOURTH MILLENNIUM B.C.) (fig. 2: 2) support the grate which presumably would have been
Tall-i-Bakun consisted of two elongated flat mounds,
A and B, 2.5 km. south of Persepolis. The western
(26) GOFF 1963, 46-8, figs. 2-5, pi. lib. mound, Bakun A, contains the later cultural deposits.
(27) Ibid. 48. Two pottery kilns have been reported by Langsdorf (28) GOFF, 1964,49-50. and McCown in Tall-i-Bakun A, level 1(30). They are (29) At the time of the excavations at Tall-i-Nokhodi very
few pottery kilns had been excavated and reported in Iran.
They were all circular with both separate fireboxes and remains
of perforated grates. (30) LANGSDORF and McCOWN 1942, 6, figs. 5 and 6.
213 KILN IN IRAN POTTERY FIG. 2
1 and la. MAJIDZADEH Y., unpublished, potter's shop from Tepe Ghabristan
2. LANGSDORF A. and McCOWN D. D., 1942, p. 6, fig. 6
3. GHIRSHMAN R., 1938, p. 37, fig. 5.
similar in type, but the one in L28 is better preserved. author believes that the unbaked vessels were not
It was built on an elevated surface, 43 cm. high and was usually set up on shelves or any sort of stand as in
circular in shape with a small round stoke-hole on the modern kilns(32), but stacked upside down in a dome-
side. The stoke-hole was built at a level a little higher shaped pile, then covered with combustible material
than the bottom of the kiln itself. The diameter of the such as twigs or dung, and finally received an outer
kiln was two meters and the diameter of the stoke-hole layer of mud plaster with many perforations. It would
about 70 cm. According to the excavators the circular be impossible to make a free-standing dome of mud
structure comprised both the firebox and the firing plaster only over a kiln with an average diameter of
chamber. Apparently they took the partition wall 2.50 m.
(90 cm. long, 30 cm. wide, and preserved to a height
of 80 cm.) projecting from the wall opposite the
stoke-hole as the divider separating firebox and firing POTTERY KILNS FROM TEPE DJAFFARABAD
chamber. However, this partition wall was certainly a (LATE FIFTH MILLENNIUM B.C.)
support for a grate. Traces of the grate's attachments
were still recognizable on the interior surface of the Djaffarabad is a small mound which lies some 7 km.
kiln. Some fragments of it also were scattered over the north of Susa. It is almost 50 m. long, 40 m. wide and
bottom of the firebox. Six vertical flues, about 45 cm. 7 m. higher that the present surface of the surrounding
long, 12 cm. wide and 10 cm. deep were carved in the plain(33).
interior surface of the kiln. Two kilns were found in Djaffarabad levels 1 to 3
by Dollfus(34). Both kilns were of the down-draft The fact that the top of the circular wall of the kiln
type with fireboxes dug into the ground. They were was smoothed and hard-baked indicates that the
both circular in layout. One of them (748) was 1.80 m. permanent parts of the kiln except for the grate were
in diameter and 90 cm. deep. The firebox was originally preserved at the time of excavation and that no perma
lined with unbaked clay but during repeated firings nent roof had ever been built above the kiln. Therefore,
8 cm. of the thickness of its interior walls became baked. one can visualize that after the placement of the unbak
Some vertical grooves still visible on the inner surface of ed pottery and before firing, a temporary dome-shaped
the walls probably increased the circulation of air. layer of mud was being applied to the top of the walls
Fragments of a grate with perforations, 3 to 3.5 cm. in of the kiln. The temporary dome was dismantled after
diameter were found 40 cm. from the bottom of the each firing. Since a few hand-sized, slightly-baked clay
kiln(35). The bottom of the kiln was covered with a pieces with several perforations were found in the debris
thin layer of ashes. Clay rings and cones found inside inside the kiln, Langsdorf and McCown think that they
might have been some sort of supports for pots during the kiln are considered by Dollfus to have been supports
for the pots. Strangely enough no traces of a stokethe firing process. They do not ignore the possibility,
however, that they could have been fragments of the hole have been reported. Since it is an essential part of a
firing chamber. In the authors' opinion a more likely firebox, especially one dug in the ground, without which
explanation is that they were parts of the temporary the air could not circulate or the fuel be inserted, its
dome of the firing chamber. After covering the top of absence here remains a problem.
the kiln with a dome, if no chimney was provided, The other kiln (559) was 1.60 m. in diameter, perforations had to be made on the surface of the dome 1.40 m. deep. Careful observation showed that the in order to allow the hot gases to escape, and, thereby,
to maintain a desirable oxidizing atmosphere. At
Djaffarabad, Dollfus has also found the same kind of
perforations on some clay pieces inside kiln 748, and (32) See the modern kiln from Shah-Reza where the pots
on the basis of comparison with the similar fragments are placed on the shelves; see WULFF 1966, 159, fig. 239.
(33) DOLLFUS 1971, 26-7, figs. 4, 8 and pi. VI, 1 and 2. at Tall-i-Bakun, has called them supports for the pottery (34) Dollfus had originally assigned these kilns to levels inside the firing chamber(31). She seems to have been 3d-a, a phase of the Susa A (Late Susiana) period, but her misled by McCown's description of these perforated further observation has shown that actually they belong to
levels 3 m-n "niveaux intermédiaires," of the Susiana d clay pieces. As will be discussed in the conclusion, the
(Middle Susiana 3) phase. Therefore, they will be dated to
the late fifth millennium B.C. For the redating of these two
kilns see Dollfus, 1974a, 220; idem, 1974b, 3-4.
(31) DOLLFUS 1971, pi. VI, 2. (35) DOLLFUS 1971, pi. IV 2.
214