Thursday, December 3, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Frank is studying the charcoal we recovered from our flotation of sediment samples. He hopes to describe the Davenport family's choices for fuel use when firing their kiln. He's examining little chunks of charcoal with an optical microscope.
This week I also taught the students the basics of archaeological drawing, drafting, and illustration. We learned by drawing two random objects from the stuff that I keep around the lab for activities just like this. This year we drew a mini-terra cotta warrior, lent to us by Pat Martin, and a model of someone's thumb.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Mobile blog post
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Mr. Carmack wrote to me that he'd discovered something in Martineau's diary and he wanted to exchange information. In particular, he said to me that on October 29, 1855, Martineau had written:
"Oct. 29/To day, Thomas Davenport opened his kiln of Pottery. This is the first ever made south of Provo. I got two jars, some bowls and two meat dishes."
"I arrived in Parowan on November 4, . . . . I farmed and worked at my pottery trade until November 1855. I burned my first kiln, but it was nearly all broken. . . . I had another son born, but he only lived until August and died of the flu. . . . I burned another kiln of pottery but it was mostly broken. In the fall of 1856 we [Thomas and Sarah Burrows Davenport] got our endowments at Salt Lake City and stayed there until the spring of 1857. I then burned another kiln and about one third of these pieces were good. In 1851 [sic; 1859?] I built a house with six rooms and we moved into it. I had now learned to burn my ware without breaking it" (Nielsen 1963: 103).
Martineau's diary shows us that this transcription of Thomas Davenport's diary is probably accurate and that the Davenports opened their first kiln on October 29th, 1855------ 154 years ago (next week)! We also know that it took almost exactly three years to the day for the Davenport family to set up their household, farm, and shop until the first kiln firing.
My deep thanks to Noel for emailing me with this information.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
As Frank and myself opened up the new unit 26s 18w it was because of a promising shovel test pit between 26s 18w and 28s 18w.On the magnetometer reading there was an anomaly located there, which we thought might yield another kiln or industrial structure (having found one kiln we were anxious to locate another). At the bottom of the test pit we found pieces of brick and also some clay and ash. To the left is a closing picture of 28s 18w, with the shovel test pit to the north and what turned out to be Dr. Scarlett's shovel test pit from 2001. In the bottom right corner there was another ash pit, and by the end of both 28s and 26s Frank and myself would be buried under a myriad of forms relating to these puzzles. With an old shovel test pit and an ash pit found, we turned our attention to 26s 18w, north of the unit pictured in an attempted to locate a possible foundation.
During the course of our dig in the unit we found numerous ash pits, a pile of pottery and household waste, and some fence posts from the 20th century.To the left, you can see an ash pit in the top of the unit with the ash, bone, and pottery pit in the center and the shovel test pit towards the bottom. While a foundation failed to materialize we did uncover some very interesting stratigraphy, or layers of soil in the side walls. It looked as if pits has been dug, filled with ash and other debris and had nearby topsoil layered over it.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Andy brushing off masonry.
Mike starting his last unit.
Renée is now fearless with the mattock.
Parowan is full of farms and ranches. We have become used to having our morning commute delayed by cattle or sheep drives. The ranchers are moving their herds to summer pastures in the mountains, passing our camp on their trip.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
MTU faculty, students, and volunteers are excavating the site of the pottery shop established by Thomas and Sarah Davenport in 1852. These English factory workers spent nearly a decade struggling to solve technical problems, then operated their shop successfully over forty years. MTU excavation teams have unearthed several extraordinary features, including well-preserved building foundations, heaps of kiln failures, and the first English-style updraft kiln ever excavated west of the Mississippi river.
After touring the site and talking with project team members in Parowan, the group will meet at the Iron Mission State Park Museum in nearby Cedar City, Utah. At the museum, Dr. Scarlett will take the group through the exhibit, Potters of the Gathering: Clay Work in Early Utah. The exhibit includes more than 200 objects, both antique and archaeological, along with DVD video and audio programs that illustrate the successes and failures of the immigrant clay workers.
Following the pottery exhibit, the tour will consider the history of iron mining and smelting in Southern Utah. MTU industrial archaeologists and Utah State Parks staff will preview the museum’s new exhibits about residents’ efforts to make iron in the 1850s, including a full-scale replica of the blast furnace. Then the group will head west of Cedar City to Old Iron Town State Park, an industrial ruin where workers smelted iron in the 1860s. The furnace, casting house, charcoal ovens, and other industrial ruins are potential sites for archaeological fieldwork during the summer of 2010 (pictures here).
Schedule and Rendezvous:
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Open visits to excavations at the pottery site and local museum in Parowan, Utah.
Site location: 75 West 100 South, Parowan, Utah, 84761
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM: Guided tour of Potters of the Gathering at the Iron Mission State Park Museum in Cedar City, Utah.
Museum location: 585 North Main St., Cedar City, Utah 84720
2:30 PM: Overview of iron industry history, view of exhibits, caravan departs.
3:30 PM – 5:00 PM: Visit to Old Iron Town State Park.
From Cedar City head west on Hwy U-56 for approximately 20 miles. Turn south onto Old Iron Town Rd. Travel this gravel road for approximately five miles to the ruins located on the left hand side
Michigan Technological University Alumni and Friends can register here.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Key to both these areas of research is knowing the how the Davenports' story started in Brampton, England. This information matters because the scientists and engineers won't necessarily recognize how the Davenports adapted if we don't understand what they knew about potting before they left England. Nor can we understand the world the Davenports lived in and the choices they made in their lives if we don't understand where their story began.
I am very lucky to have found Anne-Marie Knowles during this past year. She is a curator at the Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery in Northern Derbyshire, England. She has been researching the Davenports in England. After considerable effort, she believes she has really nailed down where the Davenports lived. By studying the 1841 census and comparing the Davenports neighbors with other records, she is pretty certain that they lived in what is now called 'Stone Row.' The name derives from a row of stone cottages that were incorporated into shops that now face on the Chatsworth Road in Brampton. The building in which they lived is now part of a store very near the site of the Welshpool & Payne pottery owned by Matthew Knowles. This is really exciting, because it means that the picture she sent me shows the workroom in that shop, perhaps the very wheels at which Thomas and Sarah worked.
Their house was probably a cottage, but it may have had adjoining structures and looked a great deal like one of these two photos of nearby places. Keep in mind when viewing these pictures that Brampton was a small country town in the 1840s with a few factories and small communities. The buildings would have been in much better condition just after being built:
More that just that, Ms. Knowles thinks that Thomas Davenport probably worked as a thrower, and not just as a laborer in the factory. I wrote before about how the census identified Thomas as a "Pot M." We speculated that it could mean maker or manager. Ms. Knowles thinks that because the same census worker also listed "Pot Lab," meaning laborer, and "Pot Burner," referring to kiln workers, it stands to reason that "Pot M" meant "pot maker."
Since nineteenth century pottery making was a technological system, not just a series of skills or techniques, the Davenports jobs confirm the basis for all of my hypotheses and justifications for the archaeological study. These individuals had no experience building or burning kilns, making glazes, or finding and processing raw clay. Even masterful skills at a process like throwing on the wheel does not assure someone success when every other part of the technical system has changed.
If our luck continues with our discoveries, I'll have much more to say on this subject!