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The pottery workshop on the summit of the Mishrifeh acropolis started at the beginning of the second millennium BC as a small production area, reached its maximum extension during the Middle Bronze Age II (c. 1800-1600 BC) and was abandoned in the following Late Bronze Age I (c. 1600-1400 BC).


During the last centuries of its use, the ceramic manufacturing workshop was subdivided in different specialized sectors, in which the clay was levigated, mixed with temper and kneaded, the vessels were thrown on the wheel, dried on specially built surfaces, fired in kilns and finally stocked before transportation to their final destination.


In the northern part of the workshop, an exceptional discovery was made. On the surface of a trodden floor located between two platforms, which were equipped with kilns and other installations, dozens of footprints left on the muddy surface by adults and children and numerous horse hoof prints were preserved.


This evidence suggests that horses were used to transport the pottery manufactured in this area. The recovery of horse hoof prints is particularly interesting since this evidence represents one of the earliest archaeological attestations of this animal in Syria. Also of significance is the fact that the horse, generally used in war or as a prestige animal by the urban elites, was employed too as beast of burden in Middle Bronze Age II Qatna.


The horse hoof prints were strictly associated with a series of round imprints adjoining the mud platforms. These prints might be related to the presence on the floor of jars fired in the adjacent kilns and suggest the interpretation of this area as a passageway for the personnel that worked in this part of the workshop and as a pottery drying surface and floor for the cooling and temporary storage of pots after firing and before transport to their final destination.


The footprints left on the muddy surface by the adults and children working in the pottery manufacturing area made it possible to ascertain that the workers were not barefooted but wore simple sandals, consisting of a sole fastened to the foot by a strap or a fabric band.


This carpet of footprints also represents an exceptional (and huge) database of anthropological information about the physical characteristics of the Qatna population during this period. Its study made it possible to estimate the stature and sex of the people working in the ceramic production area and to build up a large record of data, which will be combined with the anthropological evidence recovered from the contemporary necropolis located under the Royal Palace to reconstruct the physical type of the ancient inhabitants of Qatna.


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