MAAST in Motion: Pottery from America Square
MAAST (MOLA Academy for Archaeological Specialist Training) began earlier this autumn and we welcomed fifteen fantastic participants with varying levels of archaeological experience through the doors of our London HQ for term one. In this blog, we hear from Amardeep who has had a life-long passion for archaeology, about where it all began and what he's learnt so far:
My interest in history and archaeology started back in secondary school in 1983. We studied Tollund Man, a mummified corpse dating back to the 4th century, discovered in 1950, buried in a peat bog on the Jutland peninsula in Denmark. Due to the quality of preservation, the authorities originally thought him to be a recent murder victim.
I was gripped by archaeology at that moment and have been ever since.
History became my passion but as the son of Indian migrants, my parents had other aspirations for my future. I ended up doing IT at college then going off to study business at what was then City of London Polytechnic (now London Metropolitan University). As it transpired, business was not for me so I left after my first year. However, jump forward 28 years and to my absolute joy I’ve landed a place at MAAST (MOLA Academy for Archaeological Specialist Training). The course, Understanding Archaeological Finds, is led by Jacqui Pearce, internationally renowned expert in medieval and later ceramics, glass and clay tobacco pipes. Jacqui is guiding us through the process of identifying, assessing, recording and publishing finds for the world to see and I’ve already learnt so much.
Learning to sort, identify, bag and label finds has been a really useful experience and I’ve looked at a lot of interesting pottery already. Here’s a few highlights:
The item below is the handle of a jug or possibly a pitcher. It has a lovely twist overlap design. It’s refined white-bodied earthenware with a cream-coloured glaze. Cream-ware or 'Queens ware' and was mainly used for decorative pieces as well as table and tea ware.
Black basalt ware teapot and milk jug
Basalt ware is a hard, black vitreous stoneware named after the volcanic rock basalt. Ornamental pieces are still produced in this exquisite ceramic body today.
What we have in the photo below is small teapot and milk jug. The teapot has a lovey floral design along the top and along the middle.
As the course progresses I’m looking forward to delving into archives and records to find out who these items belonged to and piecing together the rich history of this site at America Square.
MAAST is made possible thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Radcliffe Trust. To follow the journey, follow #MAAST on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.