Humanities: Romans and Pottery

How the Romans Made Pottery in Britain

“What we’ve learned from the suite of replication events on campus is that the firing technologies evolved to fit the materials,” Chatfield said.

The effort also helps trace the influence and intermingling of cultures, “such as European and indigenous encounters in Peru or the Romans entering Iron Age Britain,” she said.

While making the kiln was a lot more work and used a lot more fuel (wood, rather than the alpaca dung used in the Incan project), temperatures could be controlled more efficiently because the closed kiln was protected from the wind.

With this type of kiln, craft production could be organized more effectively and could also be supervised by one person – the fire won’t rage out of control, endangering the community, and people don’t have to rush in to revive a flagging fire that jeopardizes an even baking. The Romans were efficient, if not artistic.

If I were still teaching Humanities, I would use this information there. I am thinking of changing my research paper in Brit Lit to cover a topic the students are interested in, but from one of the reading periods we cover. So if someone were a potter, or interested in art in general, this might be the kind of information they would look at.

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