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.