But What Were They For?

By Bernie Bell

The dig at the Ness of Brodgar https://www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk/trust/  has un-earthed many examples of ceramics.  The first photo I ever took at the Ness was of this piece of pottery, discovered at the dig in 2009…..

Site Director Nick Card was showing us the finds for the day, and it caught my eye – I like the shapes, and that it showed real craftsmanship. 

In 2014, in Structure 14, pieces of an Early Neolithic carinated bowl were found pressed into the ‘natural’, some 1.31 metres below the current ground level……… https://www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk/dig-diary-wednesday-july-23-2014/ , and it was possible that this find could take the date for earliest occupation at the Ness back by some time.

I particularly wondered what this bowl had been used for?  Any material discovered either on or absorbed into this, or any piece of ceramic, could tell a tale of its original purpose, and therefore something of life in those times – what they ate, how it was cooked, and maybe even what it was seasoned with?  Or, could it have held some kind of unguent used in rites for the living – or the dead?

More recently I read about the work of Julia Becher and found it to be very, very interesting – the depths and layers of interest are many and varied!

Also, it’s different – very different, very interesting, very much getting to the root of some aspects of archaeology.

Having prepared this piece, I sat down to continue reading ‘Orkney Shore’ by Robert Rendall, and the next lines I read were….

“The scientist in whom the faculty for imaginative thought has become atrophied for want of use misses something even in his own studies.”

Einstein, Robert Rendall – and Julia Becher, recognizing the importance of …wonder.

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