Posted by: iMalqata Blog | February 12, 2017

The Sherd Yard

Janice Kamrin

Over the past two years, we have collected bags and bags of pottery from the West Settlement. Proper analysis of this material is essential to our understanding of the site – knowing what type of ceramics we have here, and how much, should tell us a great deal about how the area was used.

West Settlement, pottery

Some of the sherds from 2015 and 2016 laid out for preliminary analysis, with a few more bags in the background

We have done some very preliminary study of the pottery, and the most interesting comes from the floor level, mostly lying along the walls as if it had been discarded there. In many cases, the sherds are mixed with animal bones, now being analyzed by Salima Ikram (see I Wonder What the King is Eating Tonight), sometimes plant remains, and charcoal.

West Settlement: N145/E135

A deposit of pottery and bones along one of the walls in the West Settlement

We don’t have a lot of the really nice blue-painted Palace Ware, as Peter has in the King’s Palace (see Upstairs, Downstairs), and as Diana and Catharine found in the North Village (see Pots). We do have some, and I have to admit that I get excited when we find a sherd of this ware, but we don’t seem to have any complete vessels, and most of it is probably intrusive.


Blue-Painted Ibex Amphora in palace ware from the King’s Palace, from MMA excavations, 1910–11; Rogers Fund, MMA 11.215.460

What we do have are lots of sherds from jars made out of clay from the Nile floodplain (“Nile silt”). These varied in quality and size, and were sometimes given a red or white slip (a type of coating). We also have pieces of many bowls, also of Nile silt and almost always covered inside and out with a red slip. We have already found several bowls that can be almost completely reconstructed, and I suspect we may have more.


Catharine at work sorting sherds in our new Sherd Yard. It looks big, but we will need even more space before we are done!

This year, we will begin the process of analyzing all of this material properly. Catharine and I have laid out a large “sherd yard,” and have started sorting the pottery according to the location in which it was found. We have a young Egyptian ceramicist joining us to help sort and record everything properly, and then 18th Dynasty ceramic expert Pamela Rose will join us toward the end of the season to provide another level of expertise. We are all looking forward to finding out what our pots have to say!

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