Hand-made Pots

I was racking my brain for a blog post today and remembered that 3 years ago I was happily exploring the town of Kareima, Sudan just before we set off for our dig sites further north in the 4th cataract.

A few of us went off for a walk near the house we were staying in and literally stumbled upon this pottery production area. I was super excited.

You can see the pots all formed and at the leather-hard stage prior to firing, including the nice little holes in the ground to hold them as they dry.

There's a also a shot of one of the firing pits with wasters and random sherds in it.

There was no one around the whole time we poked around, which was disappointing.

These are all the same type of pot, called a zir. They're made of Nile silt, usually with lots of coarse temper, especially organic stuff like straw, animal dung, palm straw, etc. After firing they're fairly coarse. They're used for water storage - there are stands all over the place for these pots and a cup nearby to sip out of - the answer to water fountains when plumbing isn't that common. The coarse nature of the pottery helps keep the water cool.

In a lot of ways, this mode of production has been the same for thousands of years, which is pretty cool.

The very last photo is from the zir stand/alcove in the house we stayed in.  The zir there was virtually identical to the ones we saw off in the palm groves by the Nile.  Very nifty.

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