Sunday, June 17, 2012

Artifact Workshop at June 14th Chapter Meeting – Jamie Hunter

At the June 14th meeting of the Huronia Chapter of the OAS, a different kind of presentation took place.  Not the usual speaker with a digital projector and a Powerpoint presentation, but a hands-on workshop in the handling of artifacts.

Jamie Hunter, Huronia Museum Curator, brought out several dozen pot sherds and other pieces from a family farm in the area that were donated to the Huronia Museum. No one had worked with them.  He passed out toothbrushes for us to “dry brush” clean off the pieces.

The next step was to explain what to look for, how to sort pieces into rim, neck, complete body piece (two smooth sides), and one-sided body pieces.  All the sorted pieces were brought together on one table.  After more study, the preliminary conclusion was that we appeared to have one Huron style pot, one side point pot, and some pipe pieces, a fire-cracked stone, and some possibly worked stone tools. Jamie went on to explain about “temper”, material added to clay pots to better influence firing results.

all photos by Bill Gibson

body pieces

all the categorized sherds gathered on one table

smaller sized pot

note castellation on the top left of the rim

castellation example in centre of rim edge

He then took the group into the archaeology room of the Huronia Museum to show various pot sherds, reconstructed pots, and a copper trade pot (the new technology introduced by the French). He explained about “castellation” on the rims of some pots.  Then he underlined the “trap” of earlier pot analysis by archaeologists focused almost entirely on pot sherds rather than a pot as a whole unit.   Castellation examples on display in the museum range from a smaller pot with four “castles” and a large pot with just one castle point on the rim.

I was fortunate to have Kristin Thor as my dry brush and sorting partner.  She helped me when I got off-track.  Jamie explained everything in a simple, clear way.  It was a fun and educational workshop.

- by Bill Gibson

For more information on Iroquoian pottery see:

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