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Prehistoric Pottery Workshop

Wednesday: May 21, 2014

Last year, I attended the Prehistoric Earth and Fire Pottery Workshop at the Taylor Center of Natural History (Strawtown Koteewi Park). I have been there on several occasions, and that is where the Indiana Archaeology Council meets (which I am now a part of). This time, they were hosting Erik Vosteen from the Great Lakes Lifeways Institute to run a prehistoric pottery workshop. I was late because they are in a different time zone 3 hours away, so it was difficult to wake up on time – and although I should have made it by just a hair, a major route I needed ended up being closed. Oi.

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I missed the presenation, which bothered me but until time travel is an option, what can you do? To make the pots, we began with natural clay. We picked out some fibers, sticks, and big rocks, then we added grit.

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I met up with my undergrad pals (it was a great reunion!) and none of us really thought to take pictures so this is all I have from the making of the pots.

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I had to make the trip again the following weekend to fire the pots, and Boy came because there was a public event. He, of course, took photos. The pots were ready to be baked, carefully placed by Erik.

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The first thing we needed to do was make a big roaring fire. It was honestly the hottest fire I had ever been around (could be because I am normally only around fires in the fall, at night, when it is cold).

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Then we hung out a while (not long at all, it seemed) and he dug the pots out carefully to let them cool. It was really neat to see the clay turn glowing red hot.

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The public event included eating natural popcorn. This flavor is called strawberry corn, and I think you can see why.

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We also got to practice using atlatls, which are one of the oldest weapons we know of archaeologically. They are spear-throwers – essentially extending the arm so that physics can do its thing and get a lot of force behind throwing a javelin. One person can throw a dart and kill a deer. There is increased interest in atlatls and you can watch plenty of youtube videos about them. (A lot of the “arrowheads” people find are actually atlatl points – much too big for a bow and arrow.) I expected throwing them to be difficult, but its a very fluid movement. I couldn’t aim very well but I could make the dart go much further than I would have expected!

prehistoric_pottery_workshop7I do not have a photo of my pot before I began using it as a humidifier with my wood stove. Our water, being well water and all, is gross. So it has a lot of minerals in it which created a white crusty coating on my pot and splattered all over the stove. It did seem to work though as a humidifier so I didn’t mind. After a while, however, it started disintegrating the rim. I don’t mind that either – it is neat to watch it change and sparks a lot of questions about ancient peoples and their pots.

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