Monthly Archives: March 2014

Teapots from Yixing

I think by now you will all know that my main interests lie with anything to do with archaeology and ancient times, mainly pottery  Therefor it will come as no surprise  that I also like collecting certain antique items, one of which are the beautiful Yixing teapots, of which I only ever managed to obtain two to add to my collection of teapots.

Chinese Yixing Teapot with looped handlec 1900

Yixing Ware Teapot with looped handle c 1900


Archaeology reveals that as early as the Song Dynasty (l0th century) potters near Yixing were using local ” Zisha”  (purple sand/clay) to make utensils that may have functioned as teapots.


According to the ‘ Ming dynasty ‘  Zhou Gaoqi , during the reign of Zhengde Emperor, a monk from Jinsha Temple (Golden Sand Temple) in Yixing handcrafted a fine quality teapot from local clay, such teapots soon became popular and the fame of Yixing teapots quickly spread.

These wares are valued for their fine texture, thin walls and naturally beautiful color, ranging from light buff to deep maroon to purple tones. The clay consists of quartz, kaolin, mica and iron oxide and it is the iron oxide which gives the reddish color of the clay.Yixing teapots can be simple and elegant or exotic and elaborate

Teapots from the Ming dynasty tend to be very simple and elegant whereas the Qing dynasty (l644-19ll ) brought a higher level of decoration of the Yixing teapots. and the artists began to create pots with painting, inlaid with gold and silver.

Chines Decorated Teapot  cl720 Qing Dynasty

Qing dynasty Teapot and cover c 1720

Yixing Teapot (Ming Dynasty)

KangXi an early Emperor in the dynasty liked colored enamel  pots which were more formal than those of today. All the pots that entered the palace could only have the seal of the Emperors  reign and not the artists shop. During his reign China began exporting these beautiful purple teapots to Europe along with the Chinese tea.

Packing Tea into wooden chests. 19th century

Packing tea into wooden chests for export

Porters lugging tea chests on carrying poles to the shipper.

Porters lugging tea chests on carrying poles to the shipper 19th century.


Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Uncategorized


Cambridge University archaeologists find ‘oldest’ Roman irrigation system



It is thought the beds would have been used to grow grapes or asparagus
Excavations at a Cambridge University development have revealed what archaeologists believe is Britain’s oldest-known Roman irrigation system.

Planting beds and pit wells were unearthed at the North West Cambridge site near Huntingdon Road.

Chris Evans from the university’s archaeological unit said they dated from between 70 AD and 120 AD.

It was an “unparalleled discovery” and “effectively the first irrigation system we’ve seen”, he said.

Excavations have so far uncovered evidence of settlements and habitation on the site from as early as the later Neolithic period, about 2800 BC to 2200 BC, to the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman period as well as more modern finds including World War II practice trenches.

‘New territory’
The team has been investigating how people through the ages adapted to living in an inland area away from main river valleys.

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Posted by on March 22, 2014 in Uncategorized


New Post on Rita Roberts Blog The Burial That’s Changing British History

New Post on Rita Roberts Blog The Burial That’s Changing British History
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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


Experimental Archaeology (Minoan Incense Burners)

Ritaroberts's Blog

It has been sometime since two of our dear friends Gracia and Pete came to spend a holiday with us, not only to visit but to track down and photograph the Rock Rose of Crete in its natural habitat.The Rock Rose produces Labdanum,an aromatic substance sometimes used in incense and perfume.

Gracia and Pete trade in incense resins sometimes travelling to far off countries to obtain many of these exotic items such as frank’ incense and gods smile. They took their wonderful aroma’s and sold them at the Re-enactors markets where we met them many years ago, We were then trading as Apicius Sauces made from original roman recipes.

While Gracia and Pete were holidaying with us in 2006 they visited the Agios Nikolaos museum in Crete where to their amazement they observed more incense burners than they had ever seen in a single exhibition.They were intrigued by the fact  there were some very unusual burners they had…

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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Archaeology


The Source of The Blue Stones

The source of the search for the Stonehenge blue Stones has progressed yet another step, with the announcement of a second confirmed quarry site in southwest Wales.

While the monuments sarsens are thought to have been sourced locally  from the Marlborough Downs area, about 30km north of Stonehenge it has long been suspected that the smaller bluestones came from further afield with Pembrokeshire posited as a likely source since 1923.

In 20ll  Dr Rob  Ixer ( UCL)  and Dr Richard Bevins (National Museum Wales) identified the first quarry, revealing that the rhyolite bluestones came  from a specific outcrop at  Craig  Rhos  y Felin.

Stonehenge bluestone source

Bluestone outcrop Craig Rhos -y- Felin. Photo courtesy National Museum of Wales.

Now Bevins and Ixer, together with Prof, Nick Pearce of Aberystwyth  University have located the source of another major type of bluestone- the spotted dolerites- at Carn Goedog  in the Preseli Hills. The team used geochemical analysis to re-examine samples taken from upstanding bluestones and debit age drawing on data published by Richard Thorpe at the Open University in l99l.

Carn Geodog Bluestone (Spotted Dolerite

Cairn Geodog  Presili Hills. Another major type of bluestone known as spotted dolerites.

Stonehenge Monument

Stonehenge Monument.

The Open University study looked at what are called ” incompatible elements ” in the rock, which allow you to distinguish samples from different regions, but all these data could prove was that the bluestones were from the Preseli area, ‘said Rob Ixer. However, we decided to look at the  ‘compatable  elements’ – these tell you about local changes to the molten material as it crystalises at high levels in the crust. Petrochemical analysis showed that all the crags in Presili come from the same batch of magma, but they have recognizable chemical differences, which is very useful. it means you can discriminate between specific outcrops.

These findings which will be published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, could suggest a change of direction in the hunt for the source of the bluestones: traditionally  such research has focused on another Preseli outcrop a mile away called Carn Meini.

‘Carn Goedog is a prominent outcrop about l5 m thick and covering some 30 m left to right’, said Richard Bevins ‘ Our next plan is to take samples and create a really detailed geochemical profile for the site-we hope eventually to establish the source of all the ‘Stonehenge bluestones’.  It is a search that is likely to continue for some time, Rob Ixer added.

It is believed there are at least ten kinds of bluestones at Stonehenge and most likely from ten separate localities, there is still a long way to go before completion of the second quarry site.

Summer Saltice at Stonehenge

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

Druids at Stonehenge 2006

Druids at Stonehenge 2006


Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

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