Local production and long-distance trade of Islamic glazed ceramics in Central Asia: A compositional analyses of ceramics from Southern Kazakhstan by NAA and LA-ICP-MS

Catherine E. Klesner, Brandi L. MacDonald, Laure Dussubieux, Yeraly Akymbek, Pamela B Vandiver

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In this study, 106 ceramics dating from the 9-15th c. CE from southern Kazakhstan were analyzed by neutron activation analysis (NAA) and laser ablation – inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) to characterize the extent of local production and trade in the region during the Early and Middle Islamic periods. The ceramics, both glazed (n = 39) and unglazed sherds (n = 67) from mostly bowl and jars shapes, were excavated from seven Medieval cities along the northern edge of the Tien Shan mountains. The glazed ceramics represent several different but common technological and artistic styles. While compositional analysis of the ceramic pastes by NAA and LA-ICP-MS demonstrates that there are three distinct compositional groups for the lead-glazed ceramics from the region, LA-ICP-MS data of the major, minor, or trace elements of the glazes do not distinguish those same compositional groups. Comparison of the glazed ceramic NAA data to over 1300 previously analyzed ceramics from Southwest Asia, Central Asia, and China indicate both an active local production of lead-glazed ceramics in Southern Kazakhstan, and trade of specialty and glazed ceramics into the region from Southwest Asia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101905
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2019



  • Compositional analysis
  • Early Islamic ceramics
  • Lead-glaze
  • NAA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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