Julfar Ware cooking pot from Al Huwaila
Late Islamic Period
Object Name: Cooking pot
Period: Late Islamic Period
Date: 1750–1835 CE
Provenance: Julfar, Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah
Dimensions: 14.6 cm height; 12.5 cm rim diam.
Medium: earthenware
Registration Number: ARC.1977.13.32
Place Of Discovery/Findspot:  Al Huwaila
This short-necked pot has a strongly upturned rim with a protrusion to accommodate a lid. The body is globular and ends in a flat disc-shaped base. The exterior of the vessel is covered with a brown slip (a thin layer of liquid clay applied before firing to improve the finish and increase impermeability). There is red painted decoration of drips, drops and geometric patterns made with a brush, although difficult to see because of the slip.

The clay used to make the vessel is characteristically grainy, and this clay, together with the shape, the manufacturing techniques and the decoration, allow its place of production to be identified as the Julfar workshop (Ras Al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates). Julfar pots and other types of vessels were widely exported throughout the Gulf.

This complete set of ceramics was discovered during the excavation of Al Huwaila Fort, a coastal trading and pearl-fishing settlement, attested in Ottoman sources from the 16th century onwards, which is thought to have been Qatar's main city until its abandonment in 1835. The exceptionally deep bay of this fishing port allowed the anchoring of commercial ships and facilitated trade with neighbouring countries and those further afield in the Far East.
Late Islamic Period, after 1600

Advances in maritime navigation, and the development of the region’s pearl industry, spurred international trade and stimulated the pearl fishing industry of Qatar and the Gulf. New pearling and trading towns sprang up on the north and east coast of Qatar, including Al Zubara, Qatar's UNESCO World Heritage Site. Zubara started life as a pearl fishing town in the second half of the 18th century but rapidly became the main trading town of the Gulf, transporting goods between Iraq, Iran, India and the wider Indian Ocean region. Its fortifications, market, magnificent houses, mosques and palaces survive today as an archaeological site in the north of Qatar. These connections drew Qatar and its people into global networks of exchange and consumption to an unprecedented degree.
In the 17th century the Ottomans and Persians continued to exercise power in the Gulf, but European colonial powers were increasingly intruding into the region. Since the early 16th century, the Portuguese had imposed their rule after subjugating the Kingdom of Hormuz. By the early 17th century their hold had loosened as the English allied with the Persian Safavid dynasty, and then, with the Omanis, expelled them from the region. The Dutch were also involved, but eventually the region became part of the British Empire, ruled from India.

During this time, most of the major towns of the Gulf were founded, many of which are the capitals of the Gulf states today. The regions’ inhabitants took advantage of expanding opportunities for pearl fishing and trade. New global trading patterns emerged, yet ancient trading networks persisted.
GARLAKE, P. S., 1978, “Fieldwork at Huwailah, site 23” in B. De Cardi (ed.), Qatar Archaeological Report, Excavation 1973, The Qatar National Museum and Oxford University Press, Chap. 15, pp. 170–178.

HARDY-GUILBERT, Cl., 1980, "Rapport preliminaire de fouilles a Huwailah," in J. Tixier (ed.), Mission Archeologique francaise a Qatar 1976-1977 / 1977-1978, CNRS Paris et Ministere de l Information Qatar, vol. 1, pp. 122–127.

HARDY-GUILBERT, Cl., 1991, "Dix ans de recherche archeologique sur la periode islamique dans le Golfe (1977-1987), Bilans et perspectives," in Y. Ragib (ed.), Documents de l’Islam médiéval: Nouvelles perspectives de recherche, Institut Francais d Archeologie Orientale & CNRS, TAEI 29, pp. 131–192.
Al Huwaila