Sphero-Conical Vessels

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Sphero-Conical Vessels:

Evidence from Baalbek (Lebanon)

Valentina Vezzoli


This presentation provides a general introduction to sphero-conical vessels, interpretations of their various uses, and related archaeological evidence, with a particular focus on the collection issued from the site of Baalbek in Lebanon. Scholars have suggested that these ceramic objects may have been used for different purposes, for instance, as wine and beer flasks or as vessels to store perfume and mercury. Recent archaeological excavations in the area of Bustan Nassif, south of the citadel of Baalbek, have yielded a diverse and challenging corpus of such sphero-conical vessels. These newly uncovered artifacts offer intriguing new evidence to understand their multiple functions, especially within a military context.


Vezzoli, Valentina. “Sphero-Conical Vessels from Baalbek: A Diverse and Challenging Collection.” Journal of Islamic Archaeology 3, no. 2 (2016): 209–232.

Ettinghausen, Richard. “The use of sphero-conical vessels in the Muslim East.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 24, no. 3 (1965): 218–229.

Fischer-Genz, Bettinna, Heike Lehmann and Valentina Vezzoli. “Pots in a Corner. Ceramics and Glass Finds from a Closed Medieval Context in Bustan Nassif (Baalbek).” Bulletin d’Archéologie et D’architecture Libanaises 14 (2010): 103–129.

Ghouchani, Abdullah and Chahryar Adle. “A sphero-conical vessel as Fuqqāʿa, or a Gourd for ‘Beer’.” Muqarnas 9 (1992): 72–92.

Van Ess, Margarette, ed. Baalbek / Heliopolis: Results of the archaeological and architectural research 2002-2005. Bulletin d’Archéologie et d’Architecture Libanaises, Hors-Série IV. Beirut: Ministère de la Culture, Direction Générale des Antiquités, 2008.


Valentina Vezzoli, “Sphero-Conical Vessels: Evidence from Baalbek (Lebanon),” Khamseen: Islamic Art History Online, published 9 September 2021.

Valentina Vezzoli is currently research fellow at the Department of Arabic, Medieval and Modern Studies of the Institut Français du Proche Orient in Beirut. She received her PhD at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Her research focuses on the study of material culture and human landscape in the Middle East during the Islamic period, with a special focus on the distribution and production of ceramic objects. She also explores cultural and economic interactions between the Islamic world and the Mediterranean.