Pottery. It’s something you see everyday out in the field. It pops out of the dirt as you use your pickaxe or trowel. At first, most people find this exciting, but the thrill begins to wear off as the days go by and more is found. As people wash pottery each day and find that it becomes monotonous, pottery does not seem to hold its same same value. This day never arrives for me.
Pottery is such an important aspect to archaeology. It allows us to glance into the past and see what was important to people. By finding what was used in daily life, we know more the similarities between then and now. Even something as simple as a piece of pottery connects us to the past.
I love finding pottery as well as cleaning pottery. Finding something that hasn’t been seen for thousands of years and being the first one to touch it is such an incredible feeling. When it’s dirty, you imagine what it looks like. When you wash it later, you get to see if your imagination was right. I love feeling the pottery to see if it’s smooth or rough, thick or thin, and what it could have looked like, as well as its size. My favorite thing is to flip it over and look for fingerprints. When you find one, it’s fun to put your thumb on the fingerprint and see if it fits. It becomes a way to connect to the past and try to imagine who the person was who made it. Things like this help you remember that that these people really lived and just weren’t written about in books.
As we get closer to the end, I think about all this pottery. I think about the pieces that still need to be found, that can be reconstructed, and still can be cleaned (something I often get teased about since I can sometimes be found washing pottery by myself). Something as trivial as little pieces of pottery help us know what people used, why they used it, and what was important. Like today, you can find many different colors and styles to pottery. I like to think that style was just as important as function. I like to think that pottery will still be underneath the dirt and can waiting for me to find it.