Monthly Archives: July 2013

An Archaeological Mystery

A six month excavation in the heart of London has revealed thousands of artifacts illuminating the city’s Roman past-including an extremely interesting sheet of decorated leather as yet unidentified.


Working ahead of construction on the Bloomberg site, home to London’s Temple of Mithras( MOLA) Museum of London Archaeologists have recovered around l0,000 objects spanning the whole period of Roman occupation in Britain, from AD 40 to the early 5th century.

Archaeologists discovered the 1.2m long leather panel beneath a pile of amphora shards, buried in a pit dug beneath the floor of a building thought to be from the 2nd century.

Its stitched decorations show a warrior-possibly a gladiator or a heroic figure- with a mythical half- horse half- fish  creature called a hippocampus on either side, and palmettes at each end. We are very excited about this object as it seems to be completely unique in the Roman Empire, ‘ MOLA Roman finds specialist Michael Marshall said. ‘ As it is unparalleled, we are not quite sure what the panel is from. There have been a few guesses such as wall hangings, window surrounds, one suggestion was even part of a vehicle like a litter or chariot. Conservation is being carried out at present  and it wont be until afterwards when the leather object can be handled and the different layers disassembled that archaeologists will be able to tell how it was constructed,and what it was attached to.

The panel survived because of the site’s location along the  Walbrook  river, where  waterlogged conditions have created a perfect environment for the preservation of organic materials such as wood and leather, MOLA discovered the timber building platforms, fences, and drains, as well as over 100 fragments of writing tablets, some of which still show traces of lettering, and hundreds of well preserved shoes.

Amber gladiator amulet. from the Walbrook Area

This Amber Gladiator Amulet was also found in the Walbrook area. It was thought to have magical powers. The Roman author Pliny describes how amber amulets could protect children from illness and the symbolism of the gladiator may also be protective.

Image  Amber amulet MOLA.

Roman Writing tablets London Excavation

More than 100 fragments of wooden tablet have been preserved. This tablet is a letter to a friend.These wooden tablets were used for everyday correspondence and even shopping lists or party invitations.

Image. Roman wooden tablet MOLA


Image leather shoe MOLA

Many Roman well preserved leather shoes such as these were found.

Original source Museum of London Archaeology.


Posted by on July 25, 2013 in Archaeology


The Native American Indian Pottery


I think that those of you reading my posts must know that my main interest lies in Ancient pottery. I have blogged about Pottery from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages, the Roman through to the Medieval and Post Medieval periods.This post is about pottery made and decorated by The North American Indians.Their pottery is well known for its artistic beauty. But first here is a brief history of their way of life.


These are people who relied mostly on the flesh of various sorts of animals as the mainstay  of their diet .From the animals they also obtained other necessities for their existence such as, skins for clothing and shelter. Sometimes the diet was supplemented by a certain amount of gathering of roots, berries and other commodities.The Blackfeet who hunted buffalo upon the plains for example, hunted moose upon the Canadian Shield.


These people lived primarily in coastal regions where the stores of fish and other seafood could be had,thus satisfying dietary requirements for the people of this area.


These people were Nomads who wandered about in search of edible flora and fauna in order to stay alive. The Paiute tribe of the Great Basin area are classic examples of the people.


Indian people were extremely successful farmers who provided for most of their needs by tilling the soil. The Native Americans lived in particular environments adapting to his surroundings with a keen sensitivity. It is thought that the North American Indian was the first and most natural ecologist we have known. From his living by nature he was careful not to destroy the natural basis of life within an area. From the Indians arts and crafts we can see that he possessed an ability to adapt and use the natural resources from any given region.The major categories  of artistic production point to the importance of natural materials and their availability.


The Native American Indian made their pottery from natural clays in various regions. They learned how to make  containers of durability and beauty. Normally pottery was made by people who lived in a relatively settled way of life since pottery does not survive well under nomadic conditions. Pottery was produced primarily in the American Southwest, the Southeast and woodland area, some was even manufactured in earlier times by farming tribes on the Plains. It was decorated in a bewildering variety of ways. The North American Indians never had the potters wheel so all pottery was made by either the coiling or modeling and paddling method. Variations in design were largely tribal and these designs can be quite complicated but beautiful.

Pueblo Indian


Food preparation and serving is an essential part of all Pueblo ceremonies, important ceremonies were usually attended with feasting. Special foods maybe associated with particular ceremonies that require planning and preparation to insure that the ingredients are at hand. The cooking may take place for several days even weeks.

Depending on the scale of the ceremony, large groups may be recruited to prepare food, including the tasks of grinding and cooking to make sure that enough food is available. Ceramics would be used as containers for the preparation of feast foods, as a means of transporting foods to other places where they are consumed, and as service to participants and audience.


Early Virginia Indians hunted, fished and collected wild grains and berries, which they prepared in different ways. Meats were roasted, while grains and  tubers were pounded into ashcakes and then baked. For many millennia, boiling water was difficult, but by the late Woodland Period (AD900-l600) technology had improved among the Powhatan  Indians of Virginia so much so that a large ceramic stew pot became the focus of family eating. Roasted meats, shellfish, and wild berries were all added to the stew, which boiled throughout the day.

Pueblo Cooking pot. Pueblo Cooking pot. AD l350-l400

Colington Cooking pot tempered with shell.

Algonquian tribe Eastern Woodland cooking pot

An  Algonquian Tribal Village Scene.

An Algonquian Tribal Village

Rather than prepare set meals, family members who spent the day gathering food or doing chores added to the stew as able and eat from it as necessary. Wild grain and, later,  domesticated corn were harvested and baked into bread. The Powhatan’s  generally avoided seasoning also salt, they most likely enjoyed food for its texture rather than its flavor. Although the Indians domesticated beans and squash, they ate more corn(maize) than any other crop, sucking unripe ears for their sweet juice, baking cornbread, or roasting it. What is known about Indian cooking in this period is based on research from  Paleobotanists and  Paliazoologists about what  wild foods were available, as well as eye witness accounts from English colonists.

During the Early Woodland period  (l200-500 BC ) pottery making was introduced from the south, and the boiling food- especially meat and dumplings made from wild grains-became common. In fact, during the Late Woodland period, a large ceramic stewpot was kept on the boil for much of the day.

The Virginia Indians mostly cooked on open-air fires usually located outdoors and in pots with conical- shaped bases propped upright with stones in order to control the heat, they added firewood  to or subtracted it from between the stones. Because the heat source was all around the pots instead of just below them, liquids came to the boil about thirty percent faster than on modern stove tops.

Indian cooks either roasted their meat and fish or cut it up- head entrails, and all- and added it to the stewpot. On special occasions, particularly tough venison was roasted and then boiled before being served. Broth from meat stews was drunk with the meals, along with spring water. Deer suet was caught or strained off during cooking to be used as a spread for bread or for drying in cakes, which were then used in trade. Oysters were either boiled or roasted, using the heat to pop open the shells; sometimes the Indians dried the oysters for trade.

Elite households, prompted by the obligation to feed guests even during the lean times, preserved meats by smoking, a process the English colonists called  ” barbecuting ”   Indian cooks dried and later ground sweet nuts, removed their shells and stirred in water to make a nut milk which was considered a delicacy. There is a story whereby the Powhatens – captured Elizabeth Hanson with her children. The march back to her captors’ village was so long and grueling that her milk dried up. When she arrived, the Indian women saw her emaciated baby, near death, and restored it to health by providing nut-milk cooked with some cornmeal in it. Virginia Indians may  have used it similarly.

Source:- MLA Citation  Rountree ,H.C.  “Cooking in Early Virginia Indian Society”.

Encyclopedia Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.


Coiled Ancient Pueblo

But firstly here is a prehistoric pueblo jar.

Anasazi Black on White pitcher geometric design.

Anasazi Pitcher Black on White Geometric design

Acoma Pueblo Flask

Acoma Pueblo  Flask.

Cherokee stamping paddles,used to imprint designs in pottery

Cherokee stamping paddles used to imprint designs on pottery

Fine Pueblo pot with birds

Beautiful Pueblo Pot with Birds.

Hopi Pueblo Hopi Pueblo Dish

Chaco Anasazi Canteen Chaco Anasazi Canteen

Acoma Pueblo Bowl

Acoma Pueblo Bowl.

Hopi unmarried woman butterfly hairstyle

This unmarried Hopi girl with the distinct butterfly hairstyle would receive

a wedding vase. Picture below.

Hopi wedding vase. Hopi wedding vase.

Ancient Hopi woman making pottery

Ancient Hopi woman making pottery.

Pueblo Indian Woman decorating Pottery

Pueblo woman decorating pottery.


Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Archaeology and Pottery


#ThisDayInHistory: July 8th, 1851- Birth date of archaeolist Sir Arthur John Evans.


Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Uncategorized


Pottery Post Medieval Period ( Part Four )

This post is my last one about Pottery of the Post Medieval times and, as stated in previous posts I have chosen some of the most famous pottery manufacturers as well as my favorites.I will however give a few other popular pottery manufacturers which you may be interested in to study, with a view to collecting in the future.


John Rose began his career as an apprentice at the Caughley Porcelain Manufactory on the opposite bank of the River Severn England. Luckily for John he was apprenticed to Thomas Turner, an eminent engraver and potter. By 1796 when John Rose, and Edward Blakeley a former Mayor of Shrewsbury and a shareholder in the spectacular Iron Bridge built over the River Severn. They bought the Caughley pottery in l799 and set up another at nearby Jackfield a year later, and shortly afterwards moved the complete business to Coalport where they produced a good quality hard-past porcelain

John Rose John Rose.

During the Coalport- Caughley period decoration in the factory was chiefly painting and printing in underglaze blue, with a small amount of enameling. Dinner services decorated with chinoiserie scenes, in imitation of the blue painted Chinese export wares were especially popular , helped by the fact that East India Company had ceased to import Oriental wares. The outstanding designs followed Caughley and included the famous Willow pattern and the Broseley dragon printed in blues-a pure cobalt and lavender- touched with gold.  Painted decoration was minimal on ordinary table ware with simple floral designs.Excavations carried out at the Caughley site clearly identified a popular form of plate with six regularly spaced indentations around the rim, they are of a type that was obviously among those sold in the white glazed state to outside decorators.

Caughley Blue and White Pickle Dish c l800

Caughley Blue and White Pickle Dish c l800. Fisherman and  Cormorant pattern.

During the l800s the Coalport factory produced a range of shapes and patterns but the” Japan ” patterns with their areas of deep underglaze blue and overglazed red ,green and gilt embellishments are prominent. These Japan patterns are associated with the Derby factory but they were common to most ceramic manufacturers.

Coalport Plate Imari design c l8l5

Coalport Dessert Plate Imari design c l8l5.

Coalport Tree of Life Porcelain Plate Imari Design c l8l0Coalport Porcelain plate The Tree of Life pattern c l8l0

The blue and white is usually my favorite but this Coalport Tree of Life pattern is exceedingly beautiful.

Coalport China Bowl Coalport Jardinaire c l795-l8l0

Soon after l8l0 Coalport china was recognized by its soft white tone, clear surface and creamy translucency. Further technical improvements in the early l820s it was made yet more purely white, finer textured, with a high white translucency. A soft, smooth lead glaze was used until l820 when John Rose introduced his celebrated leadless glaze, hard, transparent and highly lustrous. The presence of lead in the glaze had an advert effect on the enamels laid over it, particularly the sensitive tints and those prepared from gold oxide.

In l82l Samuel Walker introduced a beautiful maroon ground which became a Coalport characteristic. Decoration became richer and more varied and in the reign of George lV;  splendid dinner, dessert and tea sets were issued in brilliant colors with highly burnished gilding.

Coalport centrepiece made for the visit of Tsar Nicholas l to England l845

This magnificent centerpiece,  along with the rest of the service, was made at the Coalport Factory for the visit of the Tsar Nicholas l to England in l845. Now in the Coalport China Museum

From the l830s highly ornamented, rococo shapes and flower- encrustation on items such as vases, clock cases, ink-stands. baskets, jugs and pastille burners were overlaid with masses of small flowers. These flower encrusted wares are usually known as Coalbrookdale and maybe so marked in blue.

Coalbrookdale Teapot

A beautiful Coalbrookdale Teapot l9th century

Below   Coalport China Basket.

Coalport China Basket.

Coalport was the first English pottery to reproduce the famous  “rose pompadour” for which a gold medal was awarded at the Great Exhibition.l85l .

Below are some  Coalbrookdale-Coalport marks to be found on some of the pottery items.

Coalbrookdale Marks

Coalport Marks

Here as promised, are a few more names of popular pottery manufacturers from the 18th-19th centuries you may like to research yourselves should you be interested.


Parian Ware was popular in Victorian times because of its marble like beauty and because it was inexpensive to buy at that time. Several English factories claimed credit for its development. But the Staffordshire firm operated by William Taylor Copeland and Thomas Garret was the first to produce and sell it in l842. It was produced by other manufacturers but called  a different name. Copeland called it “Statuary Porcelain ” . Wedgewood named it  “Carrara” but it was Minton who coined the word “Parian”  to suggest Paros, the Greek isle.

Popular forms produced were portrait busts of notables such as Shakespeare, Disraeli, and Napoleon but the Victorians favored pitchers and vases of various sizes and shapes. Potteries all over the British Isles produced Parian. Leading makers of it included, Copeland , Minton, Worcester, Wedgewood, Goss and others.


Parian Ware Jug

Parian Ware Jug.


The Elers Brothers produced Red Stone Wares and were very popular in the l7-l8th century

Elers Teapot c l690-l698

Elers  Red stoneware teapot c l690-l695

Below is an example of a Salt Glazed Stoneware teapot made in Staffordshire painted in enamels c l750.

There are many Staffordshire potters too numerous to add here but you can look them up for yourself if you are interested.

Staffordshire Saltglazed stoneware teapot painted in enamels c l750


Thomas Toft Slipware.

An Early Thomas Toft  Slipware Dish.


Spode l9th century Sucrier

A l9th century Spode hand painted and gilded Sucrier


Remember to look at markings either at the underside of an item or just inside the base rim.

The color of  early gilding is usually a deeper mature gold whereas later gilding is more brassy

Porcelain is transparent as is Parian Ware when held to the light.

China is transparent.

Be aware of fakes as well as reproductions by carrying with you when visiting antique shops the pocket book of marks as given below.


And lastly if you have any questions please ask.


Posted by on July 6, 2013 in Antiques

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