Tell el-Yehudiyeh Ware

overview and dating

Tell el-Yehudiyeh Ware (also spelt Tell el-Yehudiyah or Tell el-Yahudiyeh, 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-Yehudiyeh in the eastern Nile Delta of Egypt, and is also found in a large number of Levantine and Cypriot sites. It was first recognised as a distinctive ware by 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.

fabric and technique

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-Yeduiyeh 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.return to top


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.return to top


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.return to top

discussion / significance

Tell el-Yehudiyeh Ware forms a very useful diagnostic indicator for the MBIIB-C period especially.

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 [Amiran 1970:120].return to top


Amiran, Ruth

1970 Ancient Pottery of the Holy Land, Rutgers University Press, 1970.

Bietak, Manfred

1986 “Tell el-Jahudiyeh-Keramik”, Lexikon der Ägyptologie VI, Wiesbaden: Harrossowitz, pp.335-348.

1989 “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, M. 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

Hyksos and Israelite Cities, London, 1906.

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).

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