Monday, February 22, 2016

2/22/16 Report - Pottery: Whole Vessel and Small Piece.

Written by the Treasureguide for the exclusive use of

Nice Old Conserved Pot.

A few days ago I was talking about artifacts as being more than objects.  I was talking about how there is always a story behind an object.  And it is a detailed and often personal story.

Who made this pot?  Why?  Who used it?  And how did it end up where it was found?

Those are all good questions, and I'm sure the answers would be interesting.  Unfortunately we can't answer those questions in this case, but we can start down the path.

One nice thing about this item you can see the imprint of the fingers or hands of the person who made it.  Those markings were preserved in the clay when it was made.

This particular pot is about thirteen inches high.

This pot was formed on a wheel by hand.  Notice the grooves around the sides.  You can also see the grooves inside the pot.

Bottom of Same Pitcher.
You can see that this area near the bottom has deteriorated some.

Tools were used on some pottery like this, but in this case, it looks like it was formed by hand.

Marken, in his book on shipwreck pottery, shows a number of olive jars with shoulders that were smoothed over.  The grooves were not apparent on the shoulders even though they were on the rest of the jar. 

A big part of it is knowing where an item was found.   

Put together whatever facts you can to narrow it down and then use your imagination.  After that enjoy doing some research.


Sometimes you don't have the entire artifact.  Pots are fragile and if you see something washed up onto a beach, it would likely just be a sherd.

Not all sherds are the same.  Some provide more information than others.  And it isn't always the biggest pieces that tell you the most.

Shown here is a small sherd - or shard if you prefer.
It is a beige color but is has been blackened on the surfaces.

This piece shows some of the rim, which is thickened towards the inside.

You can get a good idea of the circumference of a vessel from the rim.

This small piece provides even more diagnostic information than that.

The outside is more heavily darkened than the inside. Could that be from being over a fire?  I'd guess that is the reason.

Also notice the incised design.  It shows one incised line slanting up and to the left on the left side and two lines slanting up and to the right on the right side.

I'd say this is a Native American sherd.  It is surprising how often you can see those if you keep your eyes open when you are on a beach or out in nature.

In my experience, you are lucky to get a piece that is decorated.

What story does it tell?  As you know objects found on a beach get washed around.  They may be a long distance from where they were.  They would have no context.  It would be nothing like an archaeological site that you could excavate to unravel the story behind it.

If you find object, there is higher probability that there are more similar objects in the same area. That isn't very specific information, but it tells you to keep your eyes open.

I'm sure there are some people who might be able to tell you a lot about even a little piece like this.


Happy hunting,