favourite sherd of the day, 2

Here is today’s sherd of the day. It falls in the category ‘Incised’ and I’ve given it the catchy name ‘Sherd incised 21’. It’s a rim sherd, broken at the lip, and it’s about 5 mm thick with a gritty orange fabric.

In terms of decoration, there are at least six separate processes going on here. First off, the potter had a blank surface. He or she burnished part of it – made it shiny by polishing it with a smooth tool like a stone or a string of baobab seeds. That’s what is at the bottom of the picture here – you can’t see it because my scanner couldn’t capture it.

Then the potter took a comb – maybe a series of acacia thorns stuck in a piece of clay, maybe a metal comb or one cut out of a piece of calabash – and made seven diagonal parallel lines and then, across them, a series of seven or eight parallel lines. Then a row of small triangular incisions with something which must have looked a bit like a stylus. Finally, a wavy line was drawn onto the sherd, possibly (you can’t really tell – it’s quite eroded) by imprinting a piece of string.

This sherd was recovered in a layer 25-50 cm deep at BLAF. A sample of charcoal recovered at 47 cm in association with some bone yielded a date of between AD 660 and 770 calibrated at two sigma. The inference is that this sherd is of a similar age, although that’s actually older than we expected the site to be.


3 Responses to “favourite sherd of the day, 2”

  1. October 24, 2011 at 09:13

    You said “incised” ? It is actually a very elegant-looking piece !

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About this blog

This blog has been set up to chart the activities and research findings of two projects led by Anne Haour, an archaeologist from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

The first project, called Crossroads, brings together a team of archaeologists, historians and anthropologists studying the Niger Valley where it borders Niger and Bénin (West Africa). We are hoping to shed more light on the people that inhabited the area in the past 1500 years and to understand how population movements and craft techniques shaped the area's past.

The second project, called Cowries, examines the money cowrie, a shell which served as currency, ritual object and ornament across the world for millennia, and in medieval times most especially in the Maldive Islands of the Indian Ocean and the Sahelian regions of West Africa. We hope to understand how this shell was sourced and used in those two areas.

These investigations are funded by the European Research Council as part of the Starting Independent Researcher Programme (Seventh Framework Programme – FP7) and by the Leverhulme Trust as a Research Project Grant. The opinions posted here are however Anne Haour's own!

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