Friday, August 1, 2014

It’s Closing Time! Kiln Thoughts; and this Blog will be Moving

Kalo Mina! The dog days of summer are upon us. That means it’s closing time at CIG. As of today, August 1st through the end of the month we will be taking our annual summer recess. Jonathan will be heading to the United States for his first visit across the pond. My family and I will be in Crete, Athens and Naxos. The Institute will resume formal business on Monday, September 1st at 9:00 am.

Halasmenos: Nektarios cutting the plants with the Kha Gorge in the background
Kiln Thoughts
For the past week I’ve been studying the stoking pit and fire mouth of an updraft pottery kiln that was discovered in 2012 in the center of the Late Minoan IIIC settlement at Halasmenos in the Isthmus of Ierapetra in eastern Crete. This is an excavation of my wife, Dr. Metaxia Tsipopoulou. My contribution to the Winter Memorial volume dealt with the planning and the innovative elements of this short lived settlement that was inhabited ca. 1160/1140 BC. This year I supervised a workman cleaning the site of the wild sage and thyme plants.

Halasmenos: everything’s waiting for the researcher to resume work
While I was sitting in the stoking pit staring at the fire mouth in the hot July sun looking for details of its manner of construction and its methods of use, fond memories came back of another kiln that I had excavated decades ago. As an energetic, youngish professor in the Department of Classics at Brock University I had the idea to dig a historic site in the Niagara Peninsula so that my undergraduate archaeology students who were unable to go on our Archaeological Practicum in Cyprus in the summers could learn field techniques and procedures. The site that I chose was a red earthenware pottery kiln and workshop (and later the foundations of an adjacent house) located in bush near the edge of the Niagara Escarpment above Jordan, Ontario. The pottery was operated by an individual named Benjamin J. Lent in the mid- to late-1830s. As I liked to say too, too many times, this pottery had fallen between the floorboards of history since there were no records preserved to document it or its potter. We learned the potter’s name from the limited number of vessels he stamped with his name on. My co-researchers and I were able to trace him to his family’s roots to a family of stoneware potters in southern New York state, his potting work in New Jersey (he married the daughter of a potter) and then in upstate New York as a stoneware potter. He had a very pre-post-modern life in that he moved around practicing his craft, he left his first wife and children for a new life in Ontario, then married a local girl from the Niagara Peninsula and finally they all disappeared from all administrative records in both countries.

Halasmenos: view from the site towards Pachias Ammos and the Mirabello Gulf
The pottery excavation produced over 60,000 sherds in the course of a decade of on and off digging with my students and volunteers on weekends and holidays. The kiln Lent constructed was a sophisticated one. He even made vessels decorated in the manner of stoneware vessels as well as novelty items such as coin banks. On my webpage there is a general article about the excavation on its more important discoveries. A number of my students participated in the research and the writing of sections of the report that I submitted to the Province of Ontario. You can read it in the Special Collections of the Brock University Library!

Screen Shot of the Blog on the CIG Website
The CIG Blog will be moving in September!
Since January, 2011 the CIG blog has resided at this address. With the updating and upgrading of the CIG website ( in late May we have had the capability of having the blog as an integral part of the website. So, starting in early September the CIG Blogs will reside at our website. For August the guest blogs will be accessible here. We will retain this address as an archive of the past blogs. So there will be yet another reason for you to check our CIG website each week!

Kales Diakopes and see you in September……………………………
David Rupp

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