Monday, November 28, 2011

At work I am analyzing the ceramics from my last excavation. We dug eight outhouse pits in 8-inch-thick levels, bagging the artifacts from each level separately. The artifacts were then washed, dried, labeled, and rebagged, boxed by material type and feature.

I start by laying all of the ceramics for each level on their bag. I fit all the conjoining pieces together and masking tape them. I label the masking tape with the bag number, and then check for matches between the levels. As noted in an earlier post, items can be found up to two feet apart because things sink in the soupy outhouse fill.

Feature 170 reconstructible vessels (click picture for closer view).

I am able to reconstruct many vessels, and this helps me understand the socio-economic status of the household (the more highly decorated, the more expensive) and the date when the outhouse was filled, using the maker's marks on the back and various collector's guides.

Green transferprinted chamber pot and blue transferprinted wash basin.

This particular outhouse contains about half inexpensive whiteware dishes, including a few thick "restaurant" type dishes. The rest are decorated in a variety of patterns.

Unusual Chinese teapot.

There are six dishes from a matching blue transferprint pattern of flowers and foliage, and another three dishes from a separate pattern, with red flowers overpainted in blue, yellow, and green.

Matching pattern.

I enter the data into a computer database and I am making a table listing all of the reconstructible vessels and maker's marks. I then remove the masking tape and put the pieces back in the bags. A few of the more interesting pieces will be photographed for the report.

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