Would You Like to See Samoa?

It is spring break for some this week, but it definitely doesn’t feel like sunshine and Mai Tais today in Philadelphia. For those of us stuck at our desks, here is a short clip from our archival film collection to get you dancing and thinking of vacation!

Shot in 1940, this travelogue film documents the voyage of an avid traveler and amateur filmmaker, Mrs. J. Shipley Dixon, across the Equator to American Samoa, Apia British Samoa, Tahiti, Panama, Columbia, Haiti, and ending back in Philadelphia. Titled “Reel No. 4: Oceania (1940),” the silent film captures many colorful scenes throughout Dixon’s journey including a ship ritual play called “Neptunus Rex” in the first scene, a three toed sloth hanging around (at 20:28), a bullfight in Bogota, Columbia (at 27:23), and the trip ends with a beautiful sunset over the ocean. Jealous yet? Well wait, while Mrs. Dixon had an amazing vacation to the South Pacific and west coast of South America, she did return home to a snowy Philadelphia in mid-April!

Still what a vacation!

(Note: The full-length video does contain some nudity and suggestive content.)

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Let’s Go Fly a Kite!

Koinobori crafted at Family Second Sunday on April 13

Koinobori crafted at Family Second Sunday on April 13

The Family Second Sunday series is one of the programs that I manage here at the Penn Museum, and it’s easily my favorite.  Each month from September through May, I get to create a craft inspired by an artifact or area of the world represented by the Museum.  Then I get to teach it to kids and parents who attend the program.

My philosophy is two-fold: 1) to design a craft that even the little ones, with the help of their grown-ups, could produce; 2) to provide multiple options for interpretation so that everyone walks away with a different-looking final product.


It’s 1pm. Let the crafting begin!

In honor of the Cherry Blossom Festival and our lovely koi pond, I landed on a Japanese craft for April’s program.  Koinobori, meaning “carp streamer” in Japanese, are flown on Children’s Day, a national Japanese holiday celebrated on May 5.  Koi are a symbol of strength and courage in Japan.  Families fly the kites to represent each child.

The koi represents strength and courage in Japanese culture.

The koi represents strength and courage in Japanese culture.

With an 80 degree sunny day chock full of things to do in Philly, I was anticipating a slow day.  Boy, am I glad I was wrong!  Family Second Sunday was standing-room only within minutes.  Most families were invested in the crafts, spending about 20-30 minutes working on their kite.

First-time Family Second Sunday crafter Lucy proudly flies her koi kite

First-time Family Second Sunday crafter Lucy proudly flies her koi kite

Mara and Konrad, Family Second Sunday veterans, pose with their kites.  Mara and Konrad have been attending the program for the past two years and have made about 10 crafts.

Mara and Konrad, Family Second Sunday veterans, pose with their kites. Mara and Konrad have been attending the program for the past two years and have made about 10 crafts.

I hope to see you Sunday, May 11 for the last Family Second Sunday of the season.  Family Second Sundays are free with admission.  Head over to the Kintner Gallery and stop in anytime between 1pm-4pm.

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Jugs that rattle and roll

Continuing my condition survey of artifacts from Lapithos, Cyprus, I came across what seemed like a dull-looking Iron Age jug recently. But when I picked it up my ears perked—there were small objects rattling around inside.

Jug 32-27-984, which has unknown contents inside. Photographed by Stephanie Carrato.

Ceramic jug 32-27-984, front and side, with unknown contents inside. Photographed by Stephanie Carrato.

It may not be as pretty, but I realized that this jug is similar in shape and size to the rattling flask from Kourion written about here. In the fall conservator Tessa de Alarcon X-rayed the flask at the GE Inspection Technologies Customer Solutions Center in Lewistown, PA to see what was inside, and identified a group of small metallic (probably lead) spheres. Like that vessel, this one has a very narrow opening which keeps the contents inside, but does not allow us a good view of what exactly they are. Next fall, with the opening of the renovated conservation lab — which will have its own X-ray unit — this jug can be X-rayed too t0 see if we indeed have another rattle on our hands.

Jugs appear often in the collection and soon after seeing this one, I examined dozens. One of the most unique ones has a typical barrel form when viewed from the front, but turn it to the side to see it has three necks and sets of handles. When it was discovered, the archaeologists—Bert Hodge Hill and Dorothy H. Cox—were also impressed. In the field notebook for the tomb in which it was found (Tomb 68), it is described as a “delightful” miniature triple barrel jug.

White painted triple jug, photographed by Stephanie Carrato.

White painted triple jug 32-27-779 (ceramic) front and side, photographed by Stephanie Carrato.

Although the handwriting is sometimes difficult to decipher, the field notes from Lapithos are detailed. They record the orientation of important objects with drawings and photographs of the tombs. All the records, reports and photographs from Lapithos are available for research in the Museum Archives, so I went to look and see if the field notes could tell me more about any of these objects. Even though I didn’t find anything unusual written about the rattling 32-27-984, I did find a great sketch of a skeleton and surrounding vessels from the tomb in which it was was found (Tomb 80). The tomb is also diagrammed on another page, and there is an area on the lower right corner described as having “a mass of pots all fairly whole.” From these notes, we can begin to re-imagine the objects not as separate pieces as they appear in storage, but small parts of a large puzzle uncovered by archaeologists in 1931.

skeleton cu

Skeleton and vessels from Tomb 80, sketched in pencil. Because the sketch is drawn in very light pencil and difficult to see, the image contrast has been enhanced.

Tomb 480 sketched in pencil. The area with the "mass of pots" is in the lower right corner.

Tomb 80 (also labeled 480) sketched in pencil. The area with the “mass of pots” is in the lower right corner.

In Tomb 79 another unique vessel was found. This one, 32-27-817, is called a ring vase. It is described in the field notebook as having been found under a plate, near the back of the cave.


Ring vase 32-27-817.

ring vase

32-27-817 described in the field notebook

Although stored in different locations, the objects and field notes go hand-in-hand when investigating the history and condition of a collection. Like the X-radiographs that can aid in determining things about an object we cannot see with the naked eye, the notebooks can help us understand what objects looked like when they were removed from the ground, how their condition has changed over time, and how they relate to the bigger picture of an excavation.

My work on the Lapithos collection is the focus of a Kress Fellowship. This Fellowship is supported by a grant from the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

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Poetry Read aloud at fireside: Sacred Ground II

By: Suzan Shown Harjo

Opening Celebration March 1, 2014
Native American Voices: The People – Here and Now

Sacred Ground II

Eagles disappear into the sun
surrounded by light from the face of Creation
then scream their way home
with burning Messages of mystery and power

some are given to snake doctors and ants and turtles and salmon
to heal the world
with order and patience
some are given to cardinals and butterflies and yellow medicine flowers
to heal the world
with joy, with joy

some are given to bears and buffalos and human peoples
to heal the world
with courage and prayer

Messages for holy places
in the heart of Mother Earth
deep inside the Old Stone Woman
whose wrinkles are canyons

in the roaring waters and clear blue streams
and bottomless lakes
who take what they need

in the forests of grandfather cedars
and mountains of grandmother sentinel rocks
who counsel ‘til dawn

Messages for holy places
where snow thunder warns
and summer winds whisper
this is Sacred Ground

Sacred Ground at Spirit Falls
where small round stones have secrets
that clear-cutters can never discover

Sacred Ground at Sand Creek and Wounded Knee
Indian Island, Sky City and the Washita
where innocents were invaded
and skinned and hacked and beheaded
now, Ancestor shards and shirts and medicine bags
are trophies in hidden vaults in glass houses

Sacred Ground at Steptoe Butte and Palo Duro Canyon
where blankets of wild roses and blackfoot daisies
dull screams of ponies in the night

Sacred Ground at Summit Springs, Horseshoe Bend and Greasy Grass
where mothers still search for children
and warriors’ calls are heard at dawn

Sacred Ground at Mount Graham, Dzil Nchaa Si An
where Apaches pray for a peaceful world
invisible through vatican telescopes

Sacred Ground at Bear Butte, Nowawus
where Cheyennes and Lakotas hide from tourists
and dress the trees in ermine tails
and red-tail hawk feathers
and ribbons of prayers to the Life-Givers

Sacred Ground at the San Francisco Peaks
where Navajos and Hopis
dodge ski bums and poison snow
to settle the Spirits
where they walk

Sacred Ground at Snoqualmie Falls, Transformer’s Gift to the People
and Medicine Lake, Saht Tit Lah, Obsidian Knife Lake
where electric grids and hydro-frackers
cannot harness the healing power of mist
at the center of Creation

Sacred Ground at Echota
where even tellico’s dam engineers
hear Tsalagi voices
through the burial waters

Sacred Ground at Hickory Ground, Wetumpka
where long-ago Muscogee touch Medicine and shake Shells
and Coosa songs sing inside Ancestor Fire
as morning sun burns off low-ground fog
and Mvskoke Hotvke blow poarch dust back to jackson

Sacred Ground at Pyramid Lake Stone Mother
Thunder Mountain and Mount Adams
Kootenai Falls and the Jemez Mountains
Seven Falls and Deer Medicine Rocks
Kaho’olawe and Wakarusa Wetlands
Serpent Mound and Valley of the Shields
Bear Medicine Lodge and Garden of the Gods
Antelope Hills and the Badlands
Rattlesnake Island and Puget Sound
Boboquivari Mountain and Fajada Butte
where vision-questers seek Gifts of the Spirit
where Fire Clouds and Walking Waters stand guard

Sacred Ground at Badger Two Medicine and the Black Hills
Crazy Mountain and the Sweetgrass Hills
South Mountain and Indian Pass
Longhorn, Hatchet and Bunchgrass Mountains
Apache Leap and Chief Mountain
Mount Taylor and Eagle Rock
Wolf River and Mount Tenabo
Valmont Butte and Black Mesa
Yucca Mountain and Woodruff Butte
Red Butte and Bristol Bay
where miners have drills for arms
and gold in their eyes

Sacred Ground at Wind Cave and Cave Rock
Onondaga Lake and the Maze
Medicine Bluff and Zuni Salt Lake
Nine Mile Canyon and Walking Woman Place
Mount Shasta and the Everglades
Chimney Rock and Wao Kele O Puna
Ganondagan and Medicine Hole
Taos Blue Lake and Bear Lake
Moundville and Tus Us
Rainbow Bridge and Chief Cliff
Okmulgee Old Fields and Kasha-Katuwe

and all the Petroglyph Walls and Shell Mounds
and Freshwater Springs and Rushing Waters
and Ceremonial Grounds and Red Rocks
and Origin Places and Holy Mountains
and Medicine Wheels and Ancestor Paths

and all the doors to the passages of time
to Sacred Ground of other worlds

where suns light the way
for eagles to carry
Messages for Fires on

Sacred Ground

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Mission: Corn Cakes and Jam

Culinary ExpeditionsThe development and creation of Culinary Expeditions: A Celebration of Food and Culture Inspired by Penn Museum Treasures, a new book available May 5, was a labor of love by a host of Penn Museum staff, Women’s Committee volunteers, and other volunteers throughout the Museum. Museum docent and Women’s Committee member Cheryl Baker pulled together recipes that would populate the volume—and then asked for volunteers to test them in their kitchens, and report back. Were the directions clear and doable? Were the ingredients easily available? And most of all—did it taste good?

It’s not every day I am asked to test a recipe for a cookbook, especially one inspired by the galleries at the Penn Museum. My assignment: test Corn Meal Pancakes with Cranberry Jam, slated for the book’s Native American section.

Naturally, I accept.

The first thing to tackle is the ingredients list. In November, cranberries are everywhere, but now? The answer is yes, they are readily available frozen. Step one is a success. So is step two, a whole vanilla bean, bent in a jar at row’s end in the supermarket spice section, after turmeric. Sugar, honey, lemons for juice, water, and salt—check. The jam ingredients are ready.

Now corncakes. The list is what you’d expect and almost all kitchen staples: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk, corn oil—all stocked and waiting in my cupboards and fridge. The only uncertainty is the corn meal. The recipe prefers blue, and I love the idea. Besides an unexpected sight on a plate, it’s a nod to a Hopi tradition of blue corn cakes at weddings. But it’s also hard to find at suburban Philadelphia grocers. Available online but I don’t want to wait. Reliable yellow looks less exotic, but is still authentic and tastes equally good.

cranberry jam 1 mbThe recipe cries out to be brunch, but makes a happy breakfast-for-dinner as well. I set to work, jam first. I am unfamiliar with vanilla bean and it is captivating: Leathery feel, raw vanilla fragrance, and miniscule seeds resembling coffee grounds, scraped from the pod with a butter knife. Combine in a pot with its fellow ingredients and stir over heat, melding beautiful cranberry color, fragrant vanilla and lemon, sweet sugar and honey. After cooling I get help to press the jam through a strainer, a messy, laughing process with lick-your-fingers results.

Preparing pancakes is more familiar, pleasantly routine. Stir dry ingredients, mix wet, combine. Corn meal batter is a bit denser than the usual, but with ½ cup flour, sufficiently light. Frying in corn oil gives a Native American twist but doesn’t change the process.

corn cakes with cranberry jam 1 mbNow to the table for me and my family. Pass the corncakes and spread on jam, crack the hard-boiled eggs I serve for “this is dinner” nutrition. The response? “Delicious!” “Really good!” “Interesting, in a good way.” There are second servings all around. While eating, I reflect on the meal’s influences: corn meal from Native Americans of the Southwest, cranberries from tribes of the Northeast: a perfect combination. Unavailable in ancient times, I am sure. But a gift to us today.

Culinary Expeditions: A Celebration of Food and Culture Inspired by Penn Museum Treasures, is a project of the Penn Museum Women’s Committee. On May 5, the Women’s Committee launches the new book with a luncheon celebration featuring foods from the book, talks by book editor Dr. Jane Hickman, Expedition Magazine Editor, and Penn Museum Director Julian Siggers, plus a special display of food related artifacts, shopping, and more. Invitations are online. To order a copy of the book, $25 plus shipping, call the Women’s Committee Office at 215.898.9202, or email Ardeth Anderson at ardeth@sas.upenn.edu.

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Association for Asian Studies Conference 2014 – Joyce White Keynote Speaker

“It was a dark and gloomy night” on March 29th…….but despite the rainy weather, about 400 people came out to hear Dr. Joyce White’s talk, “Hot Pots, Museum Raids, and the Race to Uncover Asia’s Archaeological Past” at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference in Philadelphia.

Sponsored by the Henry Luce Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies, the address celebrated and illustrated the Luce/ACLS Initiative on East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History. This $11,000,000 initiative sought to reinvigorate Asian archaeology at North American Institutions that already had solid track records of scholarship in this specialized subject, as well as provide support to individual scholars early in their careers in Asian archaeology.

Dr. White spoke about the importance of archaeological work in Asia, Penn Museum’s recent archaeological research funded by the Luce/ACLS program, and threats the rich cultural heritage of Asia posed by looting and destruction of sites. Geared to an audience with a wide range of interests – archaeologists, historians, anthropologists and other scholars of Asia, as well as non-academics – the talk generated laughs and gasps, and provoked thought for all who attended.

Joyce White is the Executive Director of the new Institute for Southeast Asian Archaeology (ISEAA), and Consulting Scholar of the Ban Chiang Project at the Penn Museum.  See more at www.ISEAArchaeology.org.

Dr Michael Gilligan, President of the Henry Luce Foundation, confers with Joyce White before her talk, as Luce colleague Helena Kolenda (Program Officer for Asia) listens in. Also included: Dr. Thongchai Winichakul, AAS President (far right).  Photo by Ben Abrams.

Dr Michael Gilligan, President of the Henry Luce Foundation, confers with Joyce White before her talk, as Luce colleague Helena Kolenda (Program Officer for Asia) listens in. Also included: Dr. Thongchai Winichakul, AAS President (far right). Photo by Ben Abrams.

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What Would You Create If You Could Install an Exhibition at the Penn Museum?


This quiet, reflective space became a buzz of activity for AIM Academy and Abington School District students.  When AIM Academy 6th graders and Abington School District 2nd graders visited recently, they were asked to create a museum exhibition within the Kintner and Dietrich galleries.  The only parameter:  the exhibition had to be relevant to archaeology and anthropology (so no dinosaurs, kids).

Students working in small groups or solo were armed with an 11” X 17” floor plan of the Kintner/Dietrich galleries, pencils, erasers, and colored pencils.

Let the brainstorming begin!  Photo credit:  Pam Kosty

Let the brainstorming begin! Photo credit: Pam Kosty

A group of Abington SD 2nd graders pauses for a photo.  Photo credit:  Jennifer Reifsteck

A group of Abington SD 2nd graders pauses for a photo. Photo credit: Jennifer Reifsteck

Personally, if I were given this assignment, I’d have no idea where to begin and have the kind of artist-frozen-behind-a-blank-canvas feeling.  I’d be the one to raise my hand and ask a lot of questions:  “But Teacher, shouldn’t I do some research?”  “But Teacher, who is the audience for this exhibit?”  “But Teacher, what is our budget?”

How did the students react to the assignment?  Imaginations soared; no questions asked; no moment stalled.

Above:  2nd grade Abington SD student Kathleen wanted a space where visitors could make art inspired by the art that they see in the first gallery. Visitors could decide whether or not they would leave their art at the Museum, or take it with them. She also wanted a reading area for visitors.

blog002Above:  Peyton, Courtney, and Hannah of AIM Academy’s exhibit opens with a space to play with blocks.  Visitors can then enjoy some food or make purchases at the gift shop in the middle of the exhibition.  At the end, visitors can make art around a large table.

blog003Above:  Mason, 6th grade AIM Academy took a literal approach with interpretation to include the history of Pennsylvania, moving through to the University of Pennsylvania’s history.  With the exhibition so close to the main entrance, he saw the space as an ideal location to orient visitors to the University and to Pennsylvania.


What sorts of things did students want to see in an exhibition?  A total of 36 drawings were collected and over half of them included a space for visitors to make, build, or play with stuff.  Several exhibition floor plans even included two maker areas.

Other popular exhibition features included a café (8 floor plans) and a gift shop (4 floor plans).  Several exhibition floor plans included both of these elements, like Erica’s from Abington SD.  Great thinking on some earned income strategies!


Erica of Abington SD. A future museum CEO?


Immersive experiences, like walking through temple replicas, were also popular (6 floor plans).

prompt001Above:  The exhibition narrative of Daniel, 2nd grade Abington SD student.  The visitors to Daniel’s exhibition would travel through a maze that exits into the gift shop.  What a great strategy!

blog005Above:  Samuel, 6th grade AIM Academy student.  Visitors would walk under the gates of Ishtar, climb a ziggurat, and walk inside ancient Mesopotamian houses.


The teachers got into the assignment as well.

“I like the idea of a pop-up exhibit, like those pop-up seasonal stores,” said Jen Tanay, Abington School District teacher.  “An exhibit made for kids, by kids would be incredible. Kids could be assigned a theme loosely related to a current exhibit elsewhere in the museum such as ancient Iraq, and create an exhibit from a child’s perspective…maybe even set up and run a traditional marketplace. “

“The need to want to live through the history, to engage all their senses, through touch, through creating, through doing, and through movement, is evident in the designs the students created. This echoes the way we teach and learn experientially at AIM Academy,” said Susan Braccia, AIM Academy teacher.  “These floor plans are so telling of what the Penn Museum can do to continue to broaden visitor participation and ignite engagement in exciting ways.”

So, if you could create an exhibition at the Penn Museum, what would you design?

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Archives Photo of the Week: Baby


Umatilla baby in Oregon; Papoose in cradle.
Penn Museum Image #148783

I’ve recently returned back to the museum after having taken some time off for paternity leave (thanks to Tom Stanley for covering for me while I was gone). I’m back, but my baby is still on my mind. In honor of him, this week’s photo is of a Umatilla baby. The Umatilla people inhabited around the area of the Columbia River in Oregon. This image shows a Umatilla baby wrapped in a papoose, set in a cradle. The image was taken by Thomas Leander Moorhouse, circa 1900. Moorhouse was a photographer based out of Pendelton, Oregon who took both studio and outdoor photographs.

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Anzu and “the chicken from …”

Upon hearing of the newest dinosaur – the Anzu wyliei – I grew slightly more excited than your average dinosaur fan. The paleontologists gave a shout out not only to a trustee’s grandson (Wylie) but more exciting to me, to a Mesopotamian bird often seen with the body of an eagle and the head of a lion. They are quite fun to look at (go ahead, Google it, you won’t regret it. To narrow down your findings: “anzu bird”) and anyone familiar with the reliefs from Nineveh will recognize the imagery.

I immediately headed to storage, determined to find an Anzu in our collection. A search of the database gave me no answers. So I went to our drawers of cylinder seals [our collection is approximately 2000] and started looking. I found sphinxes, a lot of sphinxes; I found a vulture ; I found eagles ; I even found an ostrich.

Now, an Anzu is an eagle, but with that lion’s head. And on objects of this size, it’s often hard to see what kind of head that eagle has. Once I started looking? Anzu was everywhere. There are three that are published as eagle, but my vote is that they are actually Anzu—he is often seen protecting/fighting quadrupeds.
My first find was B5008.

I saw that open winged bird [a spread eagle] with head turned in profile and I simply knew.

I saw that open winged bird [a spread eagle] with head turned in profile and I simply knew.

Now check out 30-12-46. You’ll see it’s a man with wings, an “eagleman” at center, but on either side of him, you’ll notice some fierce looking birds.

What’s so great about those fierce birds?

What’s so great about those fierce birds?

One is also on this plaque, B15606, making them a lot easier to see.

Anzu attacks!

Anzu attacks!

This plaque was part of a loan we did to the Beijing World Art Museum, and you can find a full description of this object from that catalogue here.

So a newly discovered dinosaur led me to discover some Anzus of our own; I’m re-cataloging them this week.

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The Ur Digitization Project: The Largest Jar!

While working on the Ur Digitization Project and the condition assessment of the ceramic vessels from Ur, I often find myself thinking about how they were made.  Once in a while I notice features that help illuminate that question.  My favorite example of this is 31-16-160, which is described in our database as, “pottery, the largest jar, intact.”  Part of the reason I like this object is because I love this description and the grand claim of being the largest jar.  It may not in actuality be the largest jar in the whole Museum (I am sure it is not), but it is the largest intact jar from Ur (at least in our collection).

Side view of 31-16-160

Side view of 31-16-160

To get back on point, in addition to this object having a great description it has some interesting features that provide clues about its manufacturing, specifically how it was fired.  If you look at the shoulder and rim, you can see that they are distorted.  The color in this area is slightly greenish and the texture of the ceramic is also different from the rest of the vessel.  This is evidence that this object was unevenly fired so that the top of the vessel was exposed to a different maximum temperature and was over fired.

View showing the top of 31-16-160

View showing the top of 31-16-160

There is even a part of a ceramic vessel that was next to it during firing that has fused to the shoulder of the jar.

Detail of 31-16-160 showing the rim of another vessel that fused to the object during firing

Detail of 31-16-160 showing the rim of another vessel that fused to the object during firing

After this object was fashioned from clay, it would have been dried and then fired.  Not to go into too much detail but there are many factors including the type of clay, and temper which affect the ideal temperature for firing.  In all cases there is a point where the clay grains begin to fuse together and become more like a glass.  It is at and above these temperatures where this type of distortion and color change occur.

Throughout history many different firing methods have been used.  Two of the oldest technologies are open fires, which are like giant bonfires with pots in them, and pit firings which are very similar but where the potter first created a pit in the ground and often also a low wall around the pit most likely out of earthen or mud bricks.  In both methods a bedding layer of fuel is put down first.  The pots are then placed on the bedding layer and more fuel is packed in-between and often over the top of the vessels as well.  There are many different types of fuels that can and have been used around the world such as dung, bark, and dried plant materials.  Combinations of fuel are also often used.  The packing fuel can be the same as what was used in the bedding layer or be something different.  The use of these methods likely continued at Ur as at other sites in Mesopotamia alongside the use of kilns.

pit_open_firingThis jar, however was likely kiln fired and specifically in an updraft kiln. A group of kilns was in fact found at Ur in Pit F.  The field photo below shows one of these kilns which during excavation was found to still contain pottery from its last firing.

Field Photo from Pit F showing an excavated kiln still containing pottery

Field Photo from Ur Pit F showing an excavated kiln still containing pottery

There have been many different designs for updraft kilns discovered at Mesopotamian sites.  Often there are two chambers, one above the other.  The upper chamber holds the ceramics and the lower chamber, or firebox, is where the fuel is placed.  The top of this type of kiln has some type of ventilation or opening at the top which draws the heat upwards through the kiln.  This is why these are called updraft kilns (see image below for an example from Habuba Kabira, Syria).  Updraft kilns can reach higher temperatures during firing than pit firing or bonfires.  However, the kiln temperatures can be very uneven with the highest temperatures reached at the bottom of the kiln close to the fire box.  Furthermore, uneven kiln loading of the pottery can create heat pockets.  As a result over firing of ceramics is common in updraft kilns.  This jar was likely near the firebox or a heat pocket.

If you look at the bottom of this jar from Ur, you can see circular impressions.  These are likely from the rims of the ceramics around the jar during firing.

Bottom of view of 31-16-160.  The arrows point out the circular impressions on the bottom of the jar.

Bottom of view of 31-16-160. The arrows point out the circular impressions on the bottom of the jar.

Below is a possible reconstruction how this jar and others like it may have been arranged in the kiln during firing assuming it was fired with vessels of a similar form.

Possible arrangement of the jar in the kiln.

Possible arrangement of jars in the kiln.

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