Recently I have been diving into a few different projects here at Strawbery Banke. I took a little break from the glass bottles to allow for more of them soak and dry off. In the meantime, I was able to work with a box full of mostly broken glass and ceramics. This was a very interesting activity for me because I worked with ancient Roman and Greek ceramics and glass in my field school that took place in Macedonia and Bulgaria. Working with ceramics again was a bit of a flash back. I started sorting through the box one bag at a time. I separated the ceramic pieces like I would separate other pieces from excavations. This means separating them into sections of ceramics, glass, metal and interesting/identifiable pieces. The box had already been cleaned at one point so it made the separating process much easier, being that there was no dirt to clean off. As I went along I started to find very different kinds of ceramic types. I found some pieces that had very intricate and delicate designs while others were plain. Along with the designs, I found high quality ceramics such as porcelain, coarse ware ceramics and everything in between. Based on these features I kept finding more and more categories to divide the ceramics in to. I ended up with a large coarse ware pile with no glaze, a coarse ware pile with glaze, a small pile of a broken pipe, a very large pile of plain white fine pottery, a small pile of identifiable objects such as marbles, many piles of different colored glass, separate piles of ceramic pieces based on the color of the design, and a few smaller piles of metal objects.
It was interesting to find that most of the patterns on the ceramic pieces were of only a select number of colors. This made putting piles together that could possibly be reconstructed in the future if needed much easier. The patterns were also interesting because they reflected the shared trade and events of the era. There were nature scenes, Asian motifs and other battle scenes. From my limited archaeological experience in the area; I wasn’t expecting to see Asian motifs on some of the pieces, so that was an interesting surprise to dig out. After separating all of these piles and finding very unique patterns and pieces, I learned that a lot of the patterns were stamps and only a small amount were hand panted. I was also told that the stamped patterns that had a faded or bleeding look were of poor quality compared to the nicer patterns that had clean and solid lines. This was very fun for me to work with pottery that was mostly high quality porcelain compared to ancient Roman or Greek coarse ware. It was a unique learning experience to see how many different colors and patterns were used on ceramics that were either made or brought to Strawbery Banke. Ceramics have always been one of the most interesting artifacts that I have worked with so far and I hope to be able to work with similar pieces in the future.