Lead-glazing technology from Medieval Central Asia: A case study from Aktobe, Kazakhstan

C. E. Klesner, Y. Akymbek, P. B. Vandiver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A representative group of lead-glazed ceramics excavated from the Medieval city of Aktobe, in what is today southern Kazakhstan, was analyzed to reconstruct the production technology. Fifteen sherds, which date from the 9th–12th c. CE, were previously identified by neutron activation analysis as locally produced (Klesner et al., 2019). The ceramics, which represent four common Early Islamic wares (monochrome, underglaze painted, underglaze slip-painted, and opaque) were examined by scanning electron microscopy and electron microprobe analysis to establish the variability of local artisans’ use of raw materials, glazing methods, and decorative techniques. Early Islamic ceramics are the first glazed wares produced in southern Kazakhstan, and through their technological reconstruction, we determined how this new ceramic technology was produced. We show evidence that the ceramics were introduced by skilled craftspeople who knew the production technology that was being used in Islamic centers in southwest and Central Asia. The ceramic technology differs, however, in the use of antimony as an opacifier in opaque glazes containing high-lead oxide. This research adds to the growing body of knowledge about glazing technologies in Central Asia and helps to define the technological and cultural ties present in the Early Islamic Period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102825
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Central Asia
  • Ceramic production technology
  • Electron microprobe analysis
  • Islamic
  • Kazakhstan
  • Lead-glazed pottery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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