The Helmand Sistan Project

Saffarid and Ghaznavid

We have numerous glazed sherd collections from the Saffarid (9th to 10th centuries CE) and Ghaznavid (11th century) periods, many styles of which overlap. While stylistically very different from the pre-Islamic styles, they generally are made from hard fired wares like their predecessors, though in lighter colors—tan to buff. The assemblage shows a full range of Eastern slip ware from splashware to Calligraphic Black on White Slip to sgraffiato ware. 

Most of the later glazed wares in this sequence had incised decorations beneath olive, yellow, turquoise, or brown glazes. There are also luster wares with stylized sgraffiato inscriptions. 

While numerous non-glazed wares were also found at sites from these periods, we are still in the process of analyzing them. However, ribbed ware, common in pre-Islamic times, continue into this period, as do incised decorations on large jars. There are instances of early Islamic cut ware.

A collection of 10th to 11th century glazed sherds found at the site of Qala-i Nau at the northern end of Sar-o-Tar.
Eastern slip-painted glazed wares with white or red slips and polychrome decoration are from the surface of Shahr-i Gholghola.
Hard fired glazed wares with incised decoration beneath the glazing characterize our 11th century collections. Glazes can be olive, brown, turquoise, or yellow.
A turquoise glazed sherd with incised decoration from 11th century House 271.
Some of the incised and glazed wares are more elaborate, such as this one from Qala 327.
A set of white slipped painted wares with transparent glaze found on the 11th century floor of the Lower Palace at Shahr-i Gholghola.
Sgraffiato wares are decorated with elaborate Kufic inscriptions.
Other glazed wares from the 10th to 11th century were also found on our sites, including this one from House 271.
Non-glazed ware have been studied much less from these periods, but these excavated sherds from the terrace trench inside the Circular Enclosure at Shahr-i Gholghola show some representative examples.