Anthropology, and more importantly archaeology which is a sub-field of anthropology studies the material culture of human civilization. Pottery is one of the more important material possessions for studying ancient cultures because in areas where pottery is found ways exist to date the area, study the meanings of symbols by what is on the pottery, and to discover something about the way in which pottery represents the living culture of that society. Maiolica pottery exists across Islam and Christian cultures.
Maiolica is tin-glazed earthenware ceramic that is made opaque because there is an addition of tin oxide in the lead glaze foundation or in its background coat. Lead is no longer used making ceramics because it is an unsafe product. Maiolica has a dense, white glassy covering which does not become liquid when fired. This means that the decorations do not become runny or blurred on the whitish background. When the ceramic piece is fired at a low temperature the decorations become set and the piece has a unique white glow that comes from the tin oxide in the lead glaze (Mussachio 9).
Maiolica was transported to Pisa via Majorca, which is likely how the pottery got its name. It was brought in by the Spanish Moors who brought the technique to the Italians in about the 14th century. The first evidence of this technology comes from around the 9th century Baghdad. Islamic pottery of this type began to spread by the 11th century and was used in buildings that were both religious and civic (Figure 1). The Crusaders likely introduced the pottery in Europe as a symbol of their victory over the ‘pagans’. ...Show more