Ortal Harush

Ortal Harush


Ph.D. dissertation topic: Standardization and Technology of Ceramic Industry – Experimental, Ethnographical and Archaeological Analysis of Storage Jars as a Case Study

Advisors: Prof. Leore Grosman and Prof. Ilan Sharon (Institute of Archaeology).


Material culture is the physical expression of the totality of values, beliefs and world-views of a certain society. As such, its formation is dynamic, and it is affected by various processes that take place within the society it was born in and which it molds. Indeed, artifacts reflect the organization of production found within social, political and economic systems. An important component in the manufacturing process is specialization – regular, constant, distinct and sometimes institutionalized system. One of the most common claims to the existence of specialization is the identification of standard products, which are interpreted as manufactured by a single or limited number of units. The existence of standardization or lack thereof can indicate social and political organization.

Attempts to define such standardization in the framework of traditional archaeological research are limited and are based on a formal typological comparison which focuses mostly on rims or other “diagnostic” parts of the vessel. Morphological changes that have to do with the motor habits of the potter, or can testify different workshops, usually are not expressed in such an analysis; nor do the vessel’s function and the consumers’ requirements – which are just as essential to the examination of the vessel and the understanding of its function.

The current study will construct, using new methodologies, a method to characterize storage jars and their different level of variability and standardization. This analysis will allow focusing on the technological aspects of the jar's production process and will examine a number of questions: Can production centers be identified? Furthermore, is it possible to detect individual potters?

The study will examine the morphological differences of jar assemblages by defining characteristics using mathematical methods based on the three-dimensional digital models of the vessels. These models provide exact description of the jars, and will allow for a precise quantitative analysis of their geometry. After defining formal measures for the variability of an assemblage, they will be tested in two ways: (1) Whether they reflect the type of production system attributed by past research to the period in question (e.g. household industry in Intermediate Bronze Age and Iron Age I vs. industrial production in the MB, LB and Iron Age II). (2) An experimental and ethnographic study will be carried out to test their performance operating under known conditions. Formal similarities and differences, the motor aspects, the technology will be used to assess the connection between standardization and specialized production vs. trainee (not skilled) production. 

Research Interests:

  • The Iron Age in the Levant
  • Technology and typology of ancient pottery
  • The relationship between archaeology and the biblical text
  • Computerized application as a tool for ceramic classification and visualization
  • Experiment Archeology as a tool aiding ceramic analysis
  • Personal style – theory and practice in anthropology and archaeology


  • Masada Textiles Project 2007-2008
  • Tel Hazor - staff member at excavation seasons 2008-2010
  • Tel Rehov - staff member at excavation season 2010 and participant in publication staff since 2010
  • The Computerized Archaeology laboratory – Projects management and research staff since 2010
  • Tel Abel Beth Maacah – Area Supervisor (Area F) since 2014

List of Publications:

  • Harush, O., Roux, V., Karasik, A. and Grosman, L. 2020. Social Signatures in Standardized Ceramic Production – A 3-D Approach to Ethnographic Data. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 60: 101208. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2020.101208
  • Karasik, A., O. Harush, and U. Smilansky. 2020. The Morphology of Iron Age Storage Jars and Its Relation to the Handbreadth Measure (The Biblical Tefach). BASOR 384. doi 10.1086/710529.
  • Harush, O., N. Glauber, A. Zoran, and L. Grosman. 2019. On Quantifying and Visualizing the Potter’s Personal Style. Journal of Archaeological Science 108:104973.
  • Grosman, L., Karasik, A., Harush, O., and Smilansky, U. 2014. Archaeology in Three Dimensions: Computer Based Methods in Archaeological Research. In: Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies.
  • Harush, O. 2012. Decorated Bone, Ivory, Stone and Shell. In: Hazor VI (ed: Ben-Tor A., et al.). Jerusalem.
  • M.A Thesis topic: Regional, Chronological, Typological and Technological Aspects of 'Hippo' Jars from North Israel in the Iron Age IIa (Advisors: Prof. Amihai Mazar (Institute of Archaeology), Prof. Uzy Smilansky (Weizmann Institute of Science).