FREE ELECTRONIC LIBRARY - Dissertations, online materials

Pages:   || 2 | 3 |

«A possible alchemist apparatus from the early islamic period excavated at Ramla, Israel Antiguo Oriente: Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios de Historia ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

Gorzalczany, Amir

A possible alchemist apparatus from the early

islamic period excavated at Ramla, Israel

Antiguo Oriente: Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios de Historia del Antiguo

Oriente Vol. 8, 2010

Este documento está disponible en la Biblioteca Digital de la Universidad Católica Argentina, repositorio institucional

desarrollado por la Biblioteca Central “San Benito Abad”. Su objetivo es difundir y preservar la producción intelectual

de la institución.

La Biblioteca posee la autorización del autor para su divulgación en línea.

Cómo citar el documento:

Gorzalczany, Amir. “A possible alchemist apparatus from the early islamic period excavated at Ramla, Israel”[en línea].

Antiguo Oriente: Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios de Historia del Antiguo Oriente 8 (2010). Disponible en:

http://bibliotecadigital.uca.edu.ar/repositorio/revistas/possible-alchemist-apparatus-ramla-israel.pdf [Fecha de consulta:..........] (Se recomienda indicar fecha de consulta al final de la cita. Ej: [Fecha de consulta: 19 de agosto de 2010]).




amir@israntique.org.il Israel Antiquities Authority Tel Aviv, Israel


rosenbar@netvision.net.il Independent Researcher Petah Tikvah, Israel Summary: A Possible Alchemist Apparatus from the Early Islamic Period Excavated at Ramla, Israel During extensive salvage excavations carried out during the years 2004-2008 in a large Early Islamic industrial area at the vicinities of Ramla, in Central Israel, an unparalleled industrial device was unearthed. The star-shaped, soil embedded installation, whose lower part was preserved, consisted of a central pottery jar surrounded by five minor jars, linked by ceramic pipes. Evidence of heat was observed mainly around the central vessel, and metal hollow cones perforated in the tip were found inside the surrounding jars. Although the manufacturing procedures and operation techniques of the installation are not completely clear, it is proposed that the installation is part of an industrial workshop or an alchemy laboratory. Both industry and alchemy were well-developed during the Early Islamic period and very often closely related, to the point that sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between them. The identification proposed is based on comparisons with tools described in literary sources, and somewhat later drawings and etchings. Circumstantial ceramic evidence was found, as well as the proximity of a bathhouse whose guests could have been the consumers of perfumes and unguents seem to reinforce this possibility. Due to the poor state of preservation of the device and the lack of available comparisons, the identification proposed here is tentative, *Article received: October 10th 2010; approved: November 3rd 2010.

1We would like to express our deep gratitude to Leigh Chipman, Marcos Martinón-Torres, Joshua Drei, Yael Arnon, Lilly Gershuny and Katia Cytryn-Silverman for their valuable comments. Special thanks are due to Etan Ayalon, who always asks the right questions.

Antiguo Oriente, volumen 8, 2010, pp. 161-182 162 AMIR GORZALCZANY - BARUCH ROSEN ANTIGUO ORIENTE 8 - 2010 and future research coupled with eventual new discoveries is needed in order to clarify this matter.

Keywords: Ramla – Industry – Alchemy – Early Islamic Period Resumen: Un posible laboratorio de alquimia del período Islámico Temprano descubierto en Ramla, Israel Durante extensas excavaciones de rescate realizadas entre los años 2004-2008 en una inmensa área industrial localizada en las cercanías de Ramla, en la zona central de Israel, fue descubierta una instalación de un tipo desconocido. La instalación, empotrada en el suelo, tiene forma de estrella y esta preservada sólo en su parte inferior.

Consiste en un cántaro central de cerámica rodeado por otros cinco, de menor tamaño. Todos ellos están unidos al central por medio de tubos de cerámica. Alrededor del cántaro central hay evidencia de calor, y en los cántaros circundantes fueron descubiertos conos huecos de metal con perforaciones en el extremo. Si bien aún no está por completo claro cual era el producto ni la forma de funcionamiento de la instalación, en el artículo se propone que estamos frente a un taller industrial o laboratorio de alquimia. Estas ocupaciones o artes estuvieron ámpliamente desarrolladas durante el período Islámico temprano, y muy a menudo intrínsecamente relacionadas, hasta el punto de que muchas veces el límite entre ellas era bastante tenue y difuso. La identificación propuesta está basada en comparaciones con instrumentos descriptos en fuentes históricas y literarias, y dibujos y grabados de épocas más tardías. Evidencia circunstancial puede hallarse en la cerámica, y en la proximidad de una casa de baños cuyos visitantes bien pueden haber sido los consumidores de perfumes, bálsamos y ungüentos producidos en el taller. Debido al pobre estado de conservación y la ausencia de material comparativo, la identificación aqui propuesta es sólamente tentativa, y futura investigación unida a eventuales nuevos descubrimientos es necesaria para clarificar el tema.

Palabras clave: Ramla – industria – alquimia – Período Islámico Temprano


The site of Ramla (South) is located some 0.5 km south of the modern city of Ramla, between Road 40 (at its Ramla-Bilu Junction section) and the northern

fringes of Moshav Matzliah (map reference New Israel Grid 187750:

647180:187320: 646740).2 The site extends both east and west of the secondary Road 4304, which access both the Moshav and further south, Kibbutz Na’an 2 Israeli Transverse Mercator (ITM) is the new geographic coordinate system for Israel, in use

–  –  –

(Fig. 1). Based on previous surveys3 and excavations4 the size of the site can be estimated at 15-20 hectares. Between 2004 and 2008, a substantial portion of the site was excavated by the Israel Antiquities Authority (henceforth IAA), revealing an extensive industrial area dating mostly to the Early Islamic period.5 A plethora of artifacts, industrial features and installations of diverse types and purposes were unearthed. These included mostly pottery and glass workshops, oil and winepresses, plastered vats and containers, probably related to the craft of dyeing, as well as to other industries. During excavations carried out by Tel Aviv University (henceforth TAU), evidence of flax cultivation and its retting and further processing into textile fibers was found.6 Other features relating indirectly to various manufacturing processes, such as cisterns, vaulted pools, drainage vats, refuse pits, working surfaces, pipes, channels and an intricate network of water conduits were revealed as well during excavations carried out by the IAA, TAU and Bar Ilan University (henceforth BIU).

Such a large amount and concentration of industrial devices in a single site is without precedent in the region. However, it should be stressed that most of the above described features are well known and largely attested to in previous excavations at the city of Ramla and its surroundings. The following article deals with a most intriguing set of artifacts that were ascribed to sometimes it is also referred to as the “New Israeli Grid”. The new system relocated the Y axis 50 km westward and the X axis 500 km southward so that now the entire country is covered by positive coordinate values.

3 Shmueli and Kanias 2007.

4 Gorzalczany 2008a, b, c; Gorzalczany and Spivak 2008, Gorzalczany and aAd 2010;

Gorzalczany, Yehuda and Torge 2010; Gorzalczany and Marcus 2010; Tal and Taxel 2008a: 9;


5 The site was surveyed by Oren Shmueli and Tzach Kanias under Permit No° A-3784/02, and excavated under the following Permits: A-4144/04, A-4739/05, A-4910/06, A-5118/07, AA- 5311/07, A-5331/07-08, A-5331/08, A-5473/08 (Amir Gorzalczany), A-4454/05, A-4674/05 and A-4725/06 (Alexander Onn) on behalf of the IAA, and licenses B-298/05, BOren Tal and Itamar Taxel) and B-326/08 (Ytzhak Paz et al.) on behalf of TAU. Permit A-4144/04 was granted first to Yehiel Zelinger, who was replaced later by Amir Gorzalczany.

Permit A-5168/07 was a joint venture of the IAA and TAU. The salvage excavation of Area C was carried out by BIU (License B-299/05, Rona Avissar and Joe Uziel). Field photography was carried out by Tzila Sagiv and Amir Gorzalczany. Studio photography was carried out by Clara Amit. The surveyors were Vadim Esman and Mark Kunin, and the final plans were prepared by Irena Belashov. The drawings were prepared by Irina Lidsky-Reznikov. Arieh Rochman-Halperin and Silvia Krapiwko, from the IAA Archive Branch were most helpful during all stages of the present research. Lilly Gershuny most kindly revised and improved the English. All the graphic material in this paper is by courtesy of the IAA. The authors are deeply grateful to all of them.

6 Tal and Taxel 2008a; 2008b: 123-124.

164 AMIR GORZALCZANY - BARUCH ROSEN ANTIGUO ORIENTE 8 - 2010 Stratum IIIa, which is dated to the end of the 8th and the beginning of the 9th centuries CE.7


The installation (L2150, Figs. 2-6) was overriding robber trench W2154 (Stratum IIIb, late 7th and early 8th centuries CE), thus postdating it. The device was set into the hamra soil to a depth of 0.1-0.3 m, a thin layer of ash was observed close to it, attesting to some moderate (?) heat that was apparently involved in its operation. The installation consisted of a central hub (possibly the bottom of a storage jar, diameter 0.4 m and depth 0.11 m), which was apparently connected to four other smaller jars, surrounding it in a way that resembled a star (L2156, L2157, L2158 and L2159, diameter 0.2-0.3 m), roughly oriented in the major compass directions. The preserved (lower) part of the feature is embedded into the soil and coated with a revetment of small fieldstones. As the central hub and the surrounding containers were damaged and only their lower parts were preserved, it is impossible to establish whether they were regular jars typical of the period, assigned to that specific use, or vessels made ad hoc especially for the purpose of the device. The bottom of the containers closely resembles the known bag-shaped storage jars from the period, but since most of the body and of course the neck and rims are missing, the exact identification is difficult.

The central and surrounding containers were presumably connected by short (length 0.25-0.3 m) ceramic pipes. The best preserved pipe, having a diameter of 0.12 m links the central container with jar L2158. This pipe was preserved up to half of its diameter, while the other pipes did not survive. However, their shapes can be reconstructed following the negatives left in the soil. A conicalshaped hollow brass (?) device was found inside each of the surrounding jars, except for L2156 (the one pointing to the north), which were obviously part of the installation (Figs. 7-11). The brass device missing in L2156 was probably found in L2159, which contained two such cones.8 The devices could have 7 It was revealed in Square B23 in Area I. The excavation of Area I was supervised by Tzach Kanias.

8 The brass devices were cleaned in the IAA metallurgical laboratory by Lena Kupershmidt.

–  –  –

acted as funnels or even as pipettes, for pouring fluids and had similar measures,

as seen in Tab. 1 below. The fragmentary condition of the fourth cone (Figs. 7:

3; 8) found in L 2157, did not allow to take measures.

–  –  –

It may be worth noting that another fragmentary cone was found in a refuse pit located in Area B, some hundreds meters to the east, which was rich in Early Islamic pottery.9 No exact comparisons for the cones are known to us.

Nevertheless, slightly similar devices, albeit decorated with incisions and relief and still unpublished, were found in excavations at Horbat Zefat ‘Adi, in the Eastern fringes of the Akko Valley, between Shefar'am and 'Ibilin,10 The purpose of the devices and their context remain so far unclear.11 In addition, the central hub was connected via a longer pipe (1.6 m) to another jar, similar in size to those that surrounded it. This container was barely preserved and only the marks it left in the soil were visible. The same applies to the pipe, which could only be traced by the negative pattern (0.15m width) remaining in the soil and flanked by a pebble bedding. The vanished pipe was probably a metal one, which was robbed to be either “used as is” or recycled.

The four surrounding jars had two different sizes: L2156 (preserved depth

0.22 m) and L2157 (preserved depth 0.21 m) located in the northeast and southwest directions had a diameter of 0.2 m, while L2158 (preserved depth 9 The cone (labeled B3852) was found in L419, Sq. F11, Area B (supervised by Lisa Yehuda).

10 Smithline and Stern 2004.

11 The authors are grateful to Howard Smithline and Edna Stern who kindly allowed them to quote here this unpublished data, and to Lena Kupershmidt (IAA metal treatment lab) who called their attention to these artifacts.


0.19 m) and L2159 (preserved depth 0.25 m), positioned in the southwest and northeast respectively, were 0.3 m in diameter.

Although no comparable device could be found, some points are selfevident. It seems clear that a moderate amount of heat, controllable to a degree, was used in operating the device, and some material, liquid or vapor, was transmitted between the central container and the surrounding jars.

The direction of the flow (from the central hub to the adjoining containers or vice versa) can not be inferred from the slope, which is negligible due to the short distance. Nevertheless, the central container was positioned higher than the adjacent containers, which were dug dipper into the surrounding soil.

Pages:   || 2 | 3 |

Similar works:

«Curriculum Vitae Perry R. Cook September, 2013 Address: Humbug Sonic Arts, 1004 Humbug Creek Rd., Applegate, OR, 97530. Phone: (541) 846-0698 FAX: (866) 388-3522 URL: http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~prc EDUCATION PhD, Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, January 1991 MS, Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, August 1987 BS, Electrical Engineering, University of Missouri, Kansas City, May 1986. Magna Cum Laude BA, Music, University of Missouri, Kansas City Conservatory of Music. May...»

«CALIFORNIA MILITARY HISTORY PUBLICATION Number 20-116 Joint Task Force California Press Accounts of the California State Military Forces’ Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita 31 August-11 November 2005 California Center for Military History California State Military Department 1 December 2005 CALIFORNIA MILITARY HISTORY PUBLICATION Number 20-116 Joint Task Force California Press Accounts of the California State Military Forces’ Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita 31 August-11...»

«FoMRHI Comm. 2013 John Downing Gansars, Catlines, Pistoys and Lyons – Those Silken Lute Strings? O, had the monster seen those lily hands Tremble, like aspen-leaves, upon a lute, And make the silken strings delight to kiss them, Titus Andronicus, Act II Scene IV 44-46 There are no surviving examples of lute mid range and bass strings from the 16th and 17th C so it is not known exactly how they were made or from what material. Modern historical string makers have assumed that they were made...»

«Journal of East Asian Studies 9 (2009), 433–465 Contentious Histories and the Perception of Threat: China, the United States, and the Korean War— An Experimental Analysis Peter Hays Gries, Jennifer L. Prewitt-Freilino, Luz-Eugenia Cox-Fuenzalida, and Qingmin Zhang Chinese and Korean protests over “revisionist” Japanese histories of World War II are well known. The impact of contested Chinese and US histories of the Korean War on US-China relations today has received less attention. More...»

«Smuggling in Early Modern France University number: 0605148 Submitted in part fulfilment for the degree of MA in Religious and Social History 1500 ­1700 at the University of Warwick September 2010 This dissertation may be photocopied Contents Contents Acknowledgements ii Abstract iii List of Illustrations iv Introduction 1 1 The Taxation 9 2 The Salt 21 3 The Wine 36 4 The Tobacco 50 5 The People 63 The gabelous 63 The Smuggler 68 Women and Children 75 How were they punished? 79 Louis...»

«LEVINSON FOR BP 2/4/2009 9:50:49 PM MISINTERPRETING “SOUNDS OF SILENCE”: WHY COURTS SHOULD NOT “IMPLY” CONGRESSIONAL PRECLUSION OF § 1983 CONSTITUTIONAL CLAIMS Rosalie Berger Levinson* Despite the clear text of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, its promise to protect constitutional rights has been obfuscated by the theory that Congress, by enacting civil rights laws, has “impliedly” foreclosed the historic use of § 1983 to vindicate constitutional wrongdoing. Increasingly, plaintiffs are being...»

«Anuario de Historia Regional y de las Fronteras ISSN: 0122-2066 anuariohistoria@uis.edu.co Universidad Industrial de Santander Colombia Echeverry Pérez, Antonio José La custodia de San Juan Bautista y los primeros devenires franciscanos en el Nuevo Reino de Granada Anuario de Historia Regional y de las Fronteras, vol. 18, núm. 2, julio-diciembre, 2013, pp. 269-291 Universidad Industrial de Santander Bucaramanga, Colombia Disponible en: http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=407539694002 Cómo...»

«Shamefully Trusting and Misinterpreting Historians Like Justin Martyr and Cornelius Tacitus, Who allegedly Confirm Saturn-Day as the Shabbath By The RAMYK 13-26-5991 This is in response to some who choose ignorant historians over Scripture. Its sad but true! Moreover a closer look at the very quotes of theses Roman and church historians that allegedly show that Jews kept Saturday in Temple times, actually shows the opposite. Since some trust historians and their twisted/opinionated and often...»

«1 nd Preface 2 Edition The title of this book honours a namesake, Thomas Brightman (1562-1607) whose influential work A Revelation of the Revelation, a title considered by his contemporaries to be ‘impertinent’, was published in London in 1611. Reverend Brightman, a fellow of Queen’s College, Cambridge, until his appointment as rector of Haynes (then Hawnes), Bedfordshire in 1592 presented an interpretation of the book of Revelation based on the historicist approach. That is, he saw the...»

«Human Rights Watch February 2004, Vol. 16, No. 2 (C) Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Thai Policy toward Burmese Refugees I. Introduction 1 II. New Thai Policies toward Burmese Refugees and Migrants 2 Broadening of Resettlement Opportunities 3 Suspension of New Refugee Admissions 4 The “Urban” Refugees 5 Crackdown on Burmese Migrants 6 Forging Friendship with Rangoon 8 History of Burmese Refugees in Thailand 10 III. Expulsion to Burma 12 Informal Deportees Dropped at the Border 12 The Holding...»

«CV VICTOR HUGO LACHOS DAVILA DATE BIRTH 28/04/1973 – Lambayeque Perú ADDRESS Room 316, Philip E. Austin Building University of Connecticut 215 Glenbrook Rd. U-4120 Storrs, CT 06269-4120 PHONE (+1) (860) 486-5804 FAX (+1) (860) 486 4113 WEB SITE http://www.ime.unicamp.br/~hlachos EMAIL ADDRESS hlachos@uconn.edu hlachos@ime.unicamp.br EDUCATIONAL HISTORY: 2009 2010 Pos Doctoral Studies University of Connecticut, USA Advisor: Dipak Dey 2002 2004 Ph.D. degree in Statistics São Paulo State...»

«ABSTRACT Title of Document: GLOBALIZATION AND ETHNIC IDENTITY IN THE ART OF THERESA HAK KYUNG CHA, YONG SOON MIN, AND NIKKI S. LEE. Yookyoung Choi, PhD, 2012 Directed By: Professor Joshua A. Shannon, Department of Art History and Archaeology This dissertation offers a comparative study of the work of three Korean American women artists: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-1982), Yong Soon Min (1953-), and Nikki S. Lee (1970-). While the works by these three artists have garnered some critical...»

<<  HOME   |    CONTACTS
2016 www.dissertation.xlibx.info - Dissertations, online materials

Materials of this site are available for review, all rights belong to their respective owners.
If you do not agree with the fact that your material is placed on this site, please, email us, we will within 1-2 business days delete him.