Spiritual Economy and Spiritual Craft: Monastic Pottery Production and Trade
By Ivančica Dvoržak Schrunk
Paper given at Living for Eternity: The White Monastery and its Neighborhood. Proceedings of a Symposium at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, March 6 – 9. 2003
Abstract: Our present knowledge of the production and distribution of Coptic pottery, greatly due to the work of Pascale Ballet, shows that monasteries were producers, distributors, and consumers of table and utilitarian wares. Archaeological research has located pottery workshops within the monastic compounds or outside their walls in three regions: the Delta, Middle Egypt, and Upper Egypt. One large monastic site, Kellia, had abundant ceramic finds of various provenience, but no evidence of local production. The scarce textual evidence suggests that monastic production and distribution was part of economies of scale in the hands of religious and secular establishments. In relationship with the outside world, the economic role of monasteries in the local and long-distance exchange is tangible. More elusive is their cultural and spiritual role in maintaining Roman red slip wares, in introducing painted wares, and in accepting glazed wares.