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Late-Breaking News from the Lab March 22, 2000

Was Inscribed Sherd Marked By A Slave?

Piecing together an American-made slipware plate in the lab, the team noticed an incised cross or "x" on the bottom of a sherd. At least half of the plate was recovered from N40E33, just outside the stone kitchen. In a recent paper, Diana Wall of City College, New York, noted that slaves and former slaves sometimes marked items they obtained as their own. Taken alone, of course, this find does not amount to physical evidence of slavery, but it is a good first step.


Bottom of a plate incised with an "x."
(Courtesy Brooklyn College)

As the team reconstructs the plate, probably made locally between 1730 and 1775, we can begin to see its gorgeous decoration. "There's more to the plate," Alyssa reports from the lab, "but there are so many pieces it's going slow. We have to glue two pieces together, wait till it dries, then add the next piece and wait till it dries...."


The top of the plate slowly takes shape.
(Courtesy Brooklyn College)

In another sherd, an inclusion can be seen in the clay. It is a pebble that the potter never caught in what was probably local clay. The pebble most likely won't be visible when the plate is reconstructed, but the team doesn't yet know where that piece will fit.


An inclusion in the clay
(Courtesy Brooklyn College)

Stay tuned for more pictures of the plate as it is fully reassembled.


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