Archaeologists in Egypt have uncovered an ancient Roman pottery workshop in Tabba Matouh, located in west Alexandria
This workshop was primarily dedicated to the production of amphorae and pottery during the Graeco-Roman period and served as a storage facility for these valuable vessels. Amphorae, two-handled containers with a distinctive pointed bottom, were instrumental in transporting various products, both liquid and dry, predominantly employed for the trade of commodities like wine along land and sea routes.
The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities reported that the excavation revealed a group of kilns in this workshop, where two of them were carved into the rock, with one remaining in excellent condition.
Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, provided insights into this discovery, stating, “One of the kilns is in a good state of preservation. It has a vaulted entrance on the western side, through which the potters entered the kiln to stack the amphoras.” Following the completion of stacking, the entrance was sealed with clay and pottery shards.
Notably, the evidence suggests that this workshop saw later use, particularly during the Byzantine period, where it was repurposed for lime production. The northern part of the site served as a lime kiln, reflecting an era after amphora production had ceased. Furthermore, the archaeologists uncovered burial sites, indicating that the site was later repurposed as a cemetery during the Middle Ages. One of the graves contained the remains of a pregnant woman.
The findings from the excavation have been multifaceted. In addition to the kilns, the archaeologists unearthed various structures, including a storage room housing cooking utensils and tableware. The site also featured limestone buildings with approximately thirty rooms, likely serving as temporary accommodations for the workers and food preparation areas. Notably, one room displayed signs of a raised platform and terracotta statues, implying it may have been utilized for rituals. These statues included depictions of Harpocrates, the youthful form of the falcon-headed god Horus, along with other ritual objects.
Additionally, one of the rooms contained stoves and preserved fish bones within amphorae, likely indicating that it was used for cooking and selling food. The site also yielded an array of coins, with many bearing the likenesses of historical figures such as Alexander the Great, the god Zeus, and Queen Cleopatra. Archaeologists were able to restore some of these ancient coins.
Egyptian authorities have indicated that excavations at the site will continue, with the expectation of revealing more historical and archaeological treasures.. — Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities