Victorian striped teapot that turned up in the States
Thanks to one of our American readers I am pleased to be able to post an image of another striped teapot.
Readers may recall that we posted photos of fragments of a similar teapot that was discovered during excvations in the centre of Manchester in the 1970s. Since then an example has turned up on a Norwegian flea market and now there’s this fine example from the States.
It is interesting that the lid has been replaced, as was that of the Norwegian example. Perhaps they get lost or broken over time and people have to find a way of replacing them. But the pewter (?) lids look very similar so perhaps that was how they were sold.
It’s very gratifying that people ‘out there’ are reponding to what they see on this blog and helping to extend our knowledge of pieces in the collection.
Where will the next one turn up? Over to you good readers…
Teapot from Manchester
This is a recently conserved teapot from one of the Roman Manchester sites excavated during the 1970s and 1980s by the late Prof Barri Jones. The excavators dug through through more recent Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian layers before they reached the area of Roman occupation. The later material was not a priority as part of the research aims but the objects, mostly broken pieces of pottery, were retained and are in the Museum store. We bring out the pottery every so often for events, so that visitors can try their hand at piecing together the three-dimensional jigsaws. So popular has this activity proved that we can now boast a number of almost complete Victorian and Edwardian vessels.
This example of a teapot was rebult for us by Jenna B. who has been on a conservation placement with the Museum from the University of Lincoln. A lot of the time-consuming work had already been done by visitors and Young Archaeologists Club members who put together like with like and joined them using sticky tape. All Jenna had to do was clean the sherds and glue them together. This was one of her final projects and what a great job she has done. It is only a pity that there were insufficient sherds surviving to enable us to attach the spout. We tried to find them in the boxes of mixed sherds but it’s rather like hunting the needle in the proverbial haystack. The teapot provides a good example for staff to use when discussing the ethics of conservation. At what point does a reconstruction become worthwhile?
The teapot has a rather interesting transfer printed pattern that I can only describe as ‘tigerish’. I wonder if this is Georgian rather than Victorian or later. Perhaps a visitor to the Blog can enlighten us?
Jenna working on the Georgian/Victorian teapot
The recent blog ‘Desperately seeking women in the ancient world’ seems to have struck a chord as the site statistics show one of largest totals for visitors since we opened. Not that ladies aren’t represented in the new galleries. There are interviews with Dr Chantal Conneller from Archaeology, Vanessa Oakden who works for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Dr Sonia O’Connor who is a materials scientist and Dr Roberta Mazza in Classics. However, so far as historical references or archaeological discoveries are concerned, women don’t feature as frequently. To take an example, as you might expect, Roman inscriptions set up by women or mentioning women don’t turn up as often as do inscriptions set up by men serving in the Roman army. Wouldn’t it be great to have the equivalent in Manchester of the wonderful set of tombstones set up in memory of the wives of soldiers who served at Templeborough Roman fort?
Etruscan cinerary urn showing a reclining woman. She wears a short-sleeved, high-girt chiton, long cloak with veil over the back of her head, and a large round “jewel” on her ring-finger. MM acc. no.29946a-b
What we do have in the Ancient Worlds galleries is the mummy of the ancient Egyptian temple chantress Asru and a facial reconstruction of an Etruscan lady called Hanunia Tlesnana on display in the second table of the archaeology gallery of Ancient Worlds. Is it any accident that one of the ladies whose life can be reconstructed to some degree happens to be Etruscan? After all, didn’t Etruscan ladies enjoy a greater degree of equality relatively speaking than say Roman or Greek ladies?
Well not necessarily. I checked Antonia Rallo’s chapter about ‘The Woman’s Role’ in Mario Torelli’s The Etruscans (Thames and Hudson, 2000). ‘Both in antiquity and in modern times Etruscan women have been invested with qualities and roles that were actually not theirs…we see an attempt to overestimate the Etruscan woman’s role… thus arose the myth of Etruscan matriarchy, which appears in light of modern criticism and available information, entirely unfounded’ (p.131).
Carved frieze depicting a battle scene from the front of an Etruscan sarcophagus. MM acc.no. 29949b
Of course, if any evidence were needed that Etruscan women were not to be trifled with, one has only to look at a funerary monument in the Museum collection which shows a battle scene with what looks like a woman apparently holding a tray of muffins clouting a warrior round the back of his head (right in photo)…
All the best for the New Year.
- Ancient Worlds Big Saturday: Shiree and Gaby with youngsters
Last Saturday 17th November was the Museum’s Big Saturday event to help celebrate the opening of our Ancient Worlds galleries. Anna Bunney, Curator of Public Programmes and Vicky Grant, Primary Outreach Educator, organised some events and activities for visitors. Campbell Price, Curator of Egypt and the Sudan, and I spent some time on the galleries talking to the public. Members of the Museum’s branch of the Young Archaeologists Club also came in to help piece together pieces of broken pottery from excavations in Manchester. Shiree and Gaby who are conservation student placements at the Museum were on hand to glue together broken pieces of pottery that the children were able to find. We have run this activity several times and each time it attracts as much interest from adults as from children.
Now where does that piece go?
Meanwhile I was talking to visitors in the galleries and using the Museum’s handling collection of ancient Greek artefacts as a talking point. People were really fascinated to find out about the objects, which included Classical pots and a replica of Mycenaean dagger. One of my favourites is a pot known as a lekythos showing ancient Greek warriors called hoplites fighting. This worked well with the ancient Greek Corinthian helmet on display in the gallery and the plaster cast of a frieze from a monument at Xanthos in Turkey.
Young visitor Haily looks at the ancient Greek objects
One young visitor called Haily was very interested in the Mycenaean dagger and drew a picture of it. I’ll post that image shortly.
Samian pot from Manchester about to undergo conservation
The pace of work is really hotting up now that we’ve entered the last few weeks leading up to the opening of Ancient Worlds on 25th October. As well as checking proofs of the text and the layouts of the displays, we have been taking delivery of loan objects for the new displays and gathering in objects that, in some cases, have only recently been excavated.
The photo above shows a fragmentary Roman samian bowl that was found on the former Tom Garner Motors site at the junction of Great Jackson Street and Chester Road. It was found with a rather nice Roman altar dedicated to the Mother Goddesses back in 2008. The altar is on display in the Museum’s Manchester Gallery. The kind people at Pre-Construct Archaeology kindly got the pot to us, together with a flagon, about ten days ago. They are being worked on by two conservation students who are doing a placement with the Museum, Shiree Roberts and Gabby Flexer from University College London and the University of Durham respectively. Both are studying for a Masters in conservation.
The next photo shows the pot reconstructed.
Shiree working on the Roman samian pot
When I called in earlier today to check on progress Shiree was busy in-filling joins and matching the in-fill to the colour of the samian bowl.
Maximus Factor? A cosmetic job on the samian bowl from Manchester.
It’s a work of art as much as it is a science and you really have to take your hat to the dedicated students who come and work on placements here and make the material presentable to the general public.
Samian pot nearing completion of its makeover
The Roman altar was found by Sarah Duffy of Bolton who was working for Pre-Construct Archaeology on what was only her second dig. It would be great if we could establish contact with Sarah to record an interview about what it was like to discover these Roman antiquities. If you’re out there Sarah and reading this do please contact us at the Manchester Museum.
The Manchester Museum’s contribution to the Festival of British Archaeology took place today (28th July 2010). With Anna Bunney, Curator of Public Programmes I had arranged to show a selection of pottery from the Museum’s rich archaeology collection.
I got together some ancient Greek and Roman pottery, some incredibly old sherds from a site at Yanik Tepe in northern Iran and some Victorian pottery discovered whilst excavating Roman Manchester.
Given a choice between finding out about 6,000 year old pottery and piecing together broken Victorian willow-pattern ware, guess which the children preferred? The Victorian pottery. This was something of a revelation to us but we quickly put the ancient material to one side and spread out the Victorian finds over the table.
Victorian broken pottery at the recent Festival of British Archaeology Event
Children gathered like bees round a honey pot and in no time at all they were busy sticking the fragments back together with stickly tape. The dedication and enthusiasm of the kids for this massive 3D jigsaw was amazing.
Where does this bit go?
Meddie, who’s on holiday at her gran’s (she told me she comes from Surrey), put together a fine tankard decorated with a wide blue stripe beneath the rim. Other children battled heroically with a transfer printed teapot . By the end of the afternoon we had four or five pots two-thirds complete . The hands-on had won hands-down over the 6,000 year old pot.
Meddie and the Victorian tankard she pieced together
We can run this sort of activity quite easily because we have lots of boxes of broken Victorian pottery from sites in the centre of Manchester. In fact this must be the first time it has been looked at since it was excavated in the 1970s. The excavators were more interested in the Roman layers but the more recent material is also of great interest as we found recently when we ran an event about food in Manchester. Visitors were as fascinated to see marmalade jars and lemonade bottles as they were Roman mortaria.
We should definitely consider making the pottery available as part of the Ancient Worlds galleries.