A Tricky Pottery Puzzle


The elusive pottery in-situ

When I first started working in Alberta I was told by one of my main work comrades that we had pottery in Alberta. I told him outright he was a bold-faced liar!


Some pretty ones.

Turns out he was right (I should’ve known), and we have some splendid pottery from one of our sites (I think I mentioned this briefly when we found the big bone pit). I say splendid but half of the time it looks just like shriveled up pieces of dry mud…tricky pottery.


Time to break out the trusty calipers!

Not only is it fun to excavate in the field, but it also has the added bonus of providing hours of fun when cataloging and attempting to refit the pieces. These are some of the largest pieces I’ve encountered and it looks like we have the majority of the vessel – all of the base, a good portion of the side and part of the rim. Based on these we should be able to get a good profile of the vessel to indicate what the original, complete shape would have been.

Oh yes this is coming along nicely

Oh yes this is coming along nicely

At the moment, we think it is Old Woman’s pottery ( insert tacky remark about the name of this phase), which puts it roughly 11,000 to 250 years before present. It’s typical seen in the northern plains and the southern boreal forest regions, so that’s perfect for where we are. It looks net impressed – they would form the vessel inside a net bag of sorts to help give it shape and which marks the surface of the vessel in a distinct way. They took the time to incise the rim as well, just to give it that extra little bit of flair.

DSCN2303I like to spread it all out, sit and stare at it endlessly, refit a single piece and then spend an hour holding those pieces together while the glue dries – I know, I really know how to cut loose and have fun, try not to be jealous.

Not finished yet, but getting there!

Not finished yet, but getting there!


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