Different archaeological vestiges bear witness to the presence of human communities in Potries at least from the Bronze Age. It is very probable that Potries pottery origins go back to the Neolithic, a fact confirmed by the existence of an archaeological site of this time in the “Penyascos” hill and an associated necropolis, located in the plains near of the Serpis River. The first written reference to this site was made by Simeó Peiró Frasquet, a rural physician and amateur archaeologist neighbour of Potries. In the middle of the 20th century, he informed of a first site in the Casa Fosca-Horteta allotment associated to eneolithic funerary rites, that is, a necropolis or cemetery dating from between 2,500 and 1,500 years BC, with burial mounds, human bone remains and lithic material, specially three polished stone axes. In the same site were found several fragments of the same black ceramic object, with an incisive decoration representing geometric motifs, bands and triangles. He also collected a small bracelet made of shells, found in the Casa Fosca next to other smooth ceramic objects.
Given the geographic location, as well as the aforementioned structures and materials, it seems to be a village of the Valencian Bronze Age dating between the third and second millennium BC, which extended from the top of the Penyascos hill, probably reaching the Marta hill. He mentions as well a discovery in the Penyascos hill, which we think is culturally and chronologically related to the necropolis in the plains. It consists of a cabin base found next to a stone wall, with some polished stone maces and other stone tools, and especially two unfired ceramic handmade bowls, along with different remains of ceramics, which were later reassembled into a smooth undecorated container, 40 cm in diameter and 22 cm depth, with two handles on each side, in horizontal and vertical positions, respectively. It continues over the slopes of the hills down to the plain, just before the river bank, a place dedicated, as we have seen, to the burial of the dead. It may be that some members of these first groups settled in our territory would cultivate the natural terraces that extended from the hills to the plain and the river, during the third millennium BC; they surely would hunt, fish or pasture their flocks in the wild surrounding territory; but they would as well take advantage of the good soils and water within their reach, in order to make ceramic objects, which had formed part of their cultural background for a long time. That is why we consider them the first potters in Potries.
“CAMPINA-CATORZENA” ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
The Campina-Catorzena site documents the intense romanization of Mediterranean rural areas in the 1st century AD. The excellent geographical conditions, fertile plains and water, along with favorable climatic conditions, made it possible to settle numerous farming villas in La Safor.
Although today it is very devastated, the villa in the Catorzena-Campina had a noble building as the owner’s residence, along with several annexes, such as the servants houses, warehouses, corrals, a winepress and an oilmill; but especially the pottery, of which there are still many remains in the Catorzena allotment.
This pottery was located on the river’s right bank, where the terraces have red clay soils, very suitable for their use as raw material. Its most characteristic production were the amphorae, destined for the transport and commercialization of local wine and oil, which were shipped to the peninsula of Italy and Rome. The most frequent ones were wine containers, a product that must have been the basis of the villa’s economy, while oil containers were less frequent, leading us to believe that oil production was less important. In addition, the archaeological register documents the production of several construction materials: tiles, bricks, tubes, etc. as well as a wide sample of common ceramics types. Fragments of imported and luxurious ceramics are also abundant, especially gloss pottery.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL REMAINS IN POTRIES URBAN AREA
In the 15th and 16th centuries Potries was inhabited exclusively by Muslims and it was structured around an urban nucleus of approximately one hundred houses around the current Church Square, bounded on the north by the Rebollet Canal, on the south by the Dalt Street, on the west by Cup Street and on the east by the Abadia Vella and Enguix Streets. Leaving the town center, heading east towards la Font, there was a Muslim cemetery occupying the space of the current Plaça del País Valencià, which extended to the nearby ravine. Beyond the ravine there was the “cantereria” (quarry), an artisan suburban area outside the village.
Discoveries of ceramic dumps in the Avinguda de la Constitució (former Barranc Street) and in Sant Joan Baptista Street bear witness of the pottery production in Potries, too.
All this was corroborated after the urgent excavation carried out in the Sant Salvador Street in the year 2000. The archaeological dig allowed us to document a part of the kiln sector. These rectangular kilns were excavated taking advantage of the unevenness in the clayey soils, which were hardened by the action of fire, and which would surely be aligned along a narrow access alley. They had two superimposed cavities for the fire and the pots, respectively, and one of the kilns appeared totally covered with ceramic tiles. They produced fire and table pottery, glazed clayware, common and painted ceramics, as well as pieces to supply the sugar cane mills in the region. Their types and the techniques employed refer to a consolidated production characteristic of the 16th and 17th centuries. We want to emphasize the high number of large and small sugar forms and jugs produced until the 17th century in Potries, which, along with those of Oliva, constitute a unique pottery production within our region’s context.