Tell el-Yahudiyeh Ware

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Ovoid jug featuring the ornamental engravings filled with white coating characteristic of the Tell el-Yahudiyeh Ware style. Found by Pierre Montet at Byblos necropolis in 1923, on display at the Louvre Museum.
Tell el-Yahudiyeh Ware juglets. Rockefeller Museum Israel

Tell el-Yahudiyeh Ware or Tell el-Yahudiya ware (often abbreviated TEY) is a distinctive ceramic ware of the late Middle Bronze Age / Second Intermediate Period. The ware takes its name from its type site at Tell el-Yahudiyeh in the eastern Nile Delta of ancient Egypt, and is also found in a large number of Levantine and Cypriot sites. It was first recognised as a distinctive ware by Sir Flinders Petrie during his excavation of the type site.

The ware first appears in strata dating to the MBIIA period, reaching the peak of its popularity in the MBIIB-C periods when it is encountered very frequently in contemporaneous Canaanite and Delta sites. The last vestigial expressions of this ware die out during the LBI period.

Tell el-Yehudiyeh Ware forms a very useful diagnostic indicator for the MBIIB-C period especially. In the Nile delta it is often considered to mark the presence of the Hyksos invaders.

Many ceramicists see the form of the Tell el-Yehudiyeh juglet as being firmly grounded in earlier Canaanite ceramic traditions, able to be traced back to earlier prototypes such as the juglets from Tomb A at Jericho.[1]

Fabric and Technique[edit]

The clay used in Tell el-Yehudiyeh Ware is normally grey or light-brown in colour, with numerous gritty inclusions.


Tell el-Yehudiyeh Ware is characterised by its distinctive mode of decoration, applied after slipping and burnishing, and created by repeatedly "pricking" the surface of the vessel with a small sharp object to create a large variety of geometric designs ('puncturing' according to some writers - not a completely accurate description of the process, as it appears to have been the potters' intention not to 'puncture' or 'pierce' the vessel wall, but merely to make a series of small impressions or dents). These designs appear in the form of lines, stripes, triangles, squares and - very occasionally - circles. Vessels of Tell el-Yehudiyeh Ware frequently have a dark surface (the burnished slip varying from brownish black, to grey, to yellowish), the multiple holes often being filled with chalk or lime, the contrasting white material making the surface design even more dramatic.


Tell el-Yahudiyeh Ware juglet. Rockefeller Museum Israel

Tell el-Yehudiyeh Ware is primarily seen in the form of juglets, but also includes a large variety of zoomorphic (animal-shaped) vessels and even some shaped like fruit.


Well represented in the Nile Valley up into Nubia (though primarily in the eastern Nile Delta of Egypt), the southern portion of Canaan, the north coast of Canaan, the Phoenician and Syrian coasts and the island of Cyprus (primarily the eastern regions). Not presently found in inland Syria.


  1. ^ Ruth Amiran (1970), Ancient Pottery of the Holy Land, Rutgers University Press, p. 120.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bietak, Manfred [1986], "Tell el-Jahudiyeh-Keramik", LdÄ VI, pp.335-348.
    • "Archäologischer Befund und historische Interpretation am Beispiel der Tell el-Yahudiyeh-Ware", in S. Schoske (ed.), Akten Des Vierten Internationalen Ägyptologen-Kongresses, Munchen 1985, Band 2, [Studien zur altägyptischen Kultur, Beihefte band 2], Hamburg: Helmut Buske, pp.7-34.
    • [1997], "The Center of Hyksos Rule: Avaris (Tell el-Dab'a) - Tell el-Yahudiya Ware", in Oren, E. (ed.), The Hyksos: New Historical and Archaeological Perspectives, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, pp. 91–96, fig.4.4-4.7.
  • Kaplan, Maureen F. [1980], The Origin and Distribution of Tell el-Yehudiyeh Ware, [Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology 42], Göteborg: Paul Åström, 1980.
  • Negbi, Ora [1978], "Cypriote Imitations of Tell el-Yahudiyeh Ware from Toumba tou Skourou", AJA 82.2 (1978), pp. 137–149.
  • Petrie, W.M. Flinders [1906], Hyksos and Israelite Cities, London: School of Archaeology, University College and Bernard Quaritch, 1906. HTML link + PDF
  • Zevulun, U. [1990], "Tell el-Yahudiyeh Juglets from a Potter’s Refuse Pit at Afula", Eretz-Israel 21 (1990), pp. 174–190, p.*107. (Hebrew with English summary).