BAJR Federation Archaeology

Full Version: Help identifying an artefact #3
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Just wanting to see if anyone had tripped across anything like these two objects in their travels? Both are made from fired ceramic (not CBM or briquetage) with one side smooth and dimpled with fingermarks (fingertips in one and the pads of fingers in the other). In both cases, the side on the reverse of the dimples is rougher/less well finished. On one the non-dimpled side is flat, but in the other both sides are bowed outwards (which doesn't show well in photos attached) making it unlikely that this one at least was recycled from a vessel base. Both have scorch marks at points on the edges, which sometimes extend onto the surfaces - but not by far. Neither of them have signs of exposure to the intense heat of an industrial environment like a kiln or furnace. The edges seem to have been altered, although whether by deliberate flaking or heat damage, is uncertain. The sizes and shapes seem comparable, although one is incomplete and has been reconstructed from two sherds. The fabric of both is very dense, robust, heavy, sandy and distinctive for their respective assemblages. They have significant similarities and are currently being interpreted as the same "thing" - whatever that is.

They were found on two sites in south-east Dorset, roughly twenty miles apart. One site is mainly Bronze Age with a healthy dollop of Anglo-Saxon over the top. The other site is predominantly Iron Age/Romano-British with a small side order of Bronze Age. Neither was found in a completely secure context; one is from the original land surface under a small ploughed-out Bronze Age barrow with a ring ditch, whilst the other is from the topmost fill of an Iron Age/Romano-British pit in the same context as human remains.

Has anybody seen anything similar elsewhere? It seems odd that they should turn up on two apparently unrelated sites in the same geographical area.
Pots don't have to have flat bases! Plenty of prehistorirc and medieval saggy/rounded bases

Looking at them, both seem to have rough (?broken) chamfers around the edges of the 'decorated' sides? Have seen coil-built vessels that have failed during firing and the seperate base-disk has come off almost totally clean (happens with thrown pots too, not sure why), although if thats the case the potter has put all his efforts into decorating the inside of the bases - but no, not seen anything quite like those. Afraid not familiar with the pot from down there, and Bronze Age pot later than an occasional bit of Collared Urn/Food Vessel etc doesn't happen much round here/ever (not recognisably anyway). Do these ones have a similar diameter to the bases of local pots...actually that's probably a stupid question given the size range of pots...

I like these threads...and one day I'll be able to post a useful response to one :face-approve:
i'm thinking - part(s) of one of those free standing ovens, brazier type as in one of the Cunliffe finds vols, or even an early form of the pizza /japatti discs from RB contexts
Thanks Dino. No idea of the original diameters of these objects, as there aren't any fired manufactured edges left on them. All edge surfaces appear to have been broken/taken off and show a brown/black/brown colour profile.

For the predominantly Bronze Age site we don't have any other vessels in that type of fabric - the assemblage mainly consists of small Beaker sherds. It stands out in the Iron Age/Romano-British assemblage as well, which is mainly BBW with assorted odd bits of IA/RB gear. As none of the other vessels or sherds from either site seem to have that kind of dimpling, we're at a bit of a loss. For both assemblages, the size, depth and weight of the sherds are unusually large.

Pottery wasters are a good one, although there's no significant evidence of pottery manufacture on the sites (which doesn't rule out secondary deposition, or that it was just outside the excavation area). There aren't any other sherds in this fabric on either site as might be expected for wasters - and as you say, what the dimples would be doing on the inside of a vessel, is a mystery.

Thanks for the ideas!
P Prentice Wrote:i'm thinking - part(s) of one of those free standing ovens, brazier type as in one of the Cunliffe finds vols, or even an early form of the pizza /japatti discs from RB contexts
Would those be expected to show more signs of heating? With ours, they only have scorching around particular patches on the edges. They also look like well-prepared ceramic pottery fabrics, rather than the rough kind of stuff that I've seen in kiln furniture or parts of ovens. I'll chase up the Cunliffe reference - I'm liking the idea of pizza stones onsite! RB would fit nicely with one site, but not really with the Bronze Age/Anglo-Saxon one (there are infrequent scraps of BBW & Samian in the topsoil, but that gets everywhere round here).

They're pretty robust though and I can see that they'd withstand that kind of use. One of the suggestions thus far was for roasting hazlenuts/acorns, which isn't a million miles off that type of cooking technique - using them as a heated surface. Problem is that the surfaces don't appear to have been heated - just the edges.
Does any body know of an example of something with a base that looks that
http://www.bajrfed.co.uk/showthread.php?...artefact-3

you seem to be a bit ify about the securiety of the context? -not sure how that acts as a quilifyier to context, are they both from top soil --how were they found?
Unitof1 Wrote:Does any body know of an example of something with a base that looks that
I was trying to pose a bit more of an open question than that, but yes, bases are a good starting point. Lids or improvised lids also. So far, I've not been able to find anyone who's seen this kind of dimpling effect in a vessel. The only thing I'm confident about is that these aren't parts of vessel walls, as there's no curvature to the overall shape.

Quote:you seem to be a bit ify about the securiety of the context? -not sure how that acts as a quilifyier to context, are they both from top soil --how were they found?
They aren't from the topsoil, but I'd say that both contexts carry a high risk of intrusion. Both are from sites in cultivated fields which have been disturbed by long-term agriculture and occasional animal burrowing. The old land surface beneath the ploughed-out barrow could have material which was placed on top of it when originally exposed, or which had been in the barrow mound and gradually been dropped to that position as the mound was worked flat. The topmost context of the pit could contain artefacts contemporary with the pit construction, or from dumped material used to fill in the dip caused by slump as the pit contents settled over time - or any time in between. Both objects were recovered during research excavations.
I would go with the improvisied pot lids. The question then is what did they start out as
Wax Wrote:I would go with the improvisied pot lids. The question then is what did they start out as
Thanks Wax. We'd chewed over the lid theory but the "things" are very heavy for their size and not that big. The pot they covered would have had quite a small diameter mouth but at the same time been hefty enough to support the weight of a lid this heavy. That seems to imply an industrial rather than a domestic process, but there's no sign of extreme heat on the "things". The limited scorching round the edges more suits being over a low-intensity fire and fits with the lid idea nicely. Just struggling to think of a suitable pot type/form which they'd fit over.

Certainly any other pottery from any period with that dimpling would be a good indicator if I can find someone who's seen it. Whilst we appear to have faint manufacturing evidence (possible textile impressions on one dimpled surface and the one with the possible saggy bottom appears to have been rested in sand when damp), I can't spot any use wear which might give us a clue beyong the scorching. They're both from chalk sites, so the fact that there are only calcium carbonate deposits on the dimpled sides of both, may or may not be significant (used as a lid over containers of boiling water? Just a natural post-deposition effect, given that those are the smoothest sides of both?).

As it's been found on two different sites which aren't exactly next door to each other, logic dictates that there must be more "dimpled ware" around these 'ere parts. It's just possible that nobody except me is nerdy enough to have found it interesting...
These are the profiles, if it helps.
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