Monday, September 24, 2007

Tin-Glazed Earthenware

Throughout our time in Port Tobacco we have uncovered many different types of historical ceramics from over 200 years of occupation on the site. One of the great things about excavating is the chance to get a first hand look at some of the artifacts that people have used rather than look in a book at them. Now most of what we find is just pieces of what used to be whole plates, cups, bowls and mugs but by examining these pieces we can distinguish them from each other on the spot to get an idea of what types of ceramics were being used in Port Tobacco.
Over the next several weeks I will write about each of the different types of ceramics we have found along with some photographs. Be sure to check back next week for another ceramics lesson.

The first piece is referred to as tin-glazed earthenware. Now what is a tin-glazed earthenware you ask? A tin-glazed earthenware is a soft bodied earthenware that has a tin oxide glaze to it usually with a blue design motif painted onto the pottery. They are fired at a low temperature (900 – 1100F) and must be glazed in order to hold liquids. The technique of making this type of ceramic has been around since about the 9th Century A.D. However, it didn’t show up in the United States until the late 17th and through the 19th century. Most of what is found in the Chesapeake region came from England during this time.

The piece in the picture below was found just this past Friday in one of our STP’s. The second picture is a whole tin-glazed earthenware dish for you to compare.