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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


A Piece of a Giant Jigsaw: a newly re-discovered pot from Naqada

By Alice Stevenson, on 11 March 2014

A garage in Cornwall, UK, seems an unlikely place for a piece of prehistoric Egyptian culture to turn up. But a few months ago it did.

I was recently contacted by a couple, Guy Funnell and Amanda Hawkins, who had just watched the BBC documentary The Man Who Discovered Egypt which profiled the career of Flinders Petrie. The name rang a bell and reminded them of a little broken pot they had tucked away in storage. Associated with it was a yellow, curling label bearing the title ‘Libyan Pottery’


Message in a bottle: label found with a Predynastic pot in Cornwall. A clue!


Pottery Project Guest Blog: Pondering Petrie’s Broken Pots

By Alice Stevenson, on 7 March 2014

Guest Blog by Grazia di Pietro

In the second in our series of different perspectives on Egyptian pottery Dr Grazia di Pietro, UCL Marie Curie Research Fellow, looks at what we can learn from incomplete fragments of prehistoric pottery.

For museum curators finding room in a gallery for exhibiting nice whole pots can be as challenging as trying to answer questions like: What was their function, context of use, symbolic meaning?. Answering these questions is also one of the objectives of pottery specialists researching in field projects or in ceramic analysis laboratories. However – needless to say – the pottery they have to deal with is often very different from what can be observed in a museum case.

Let’s go back for a moment to the initial issue: finding space for our pots! Well, they would occupy less room if broken in small pieces and (obviously) even less space if some of these potsherds were discarded or piled in a corner, irrespective of their previous location and sorting… We would eventually have created something similar to that which archaeologists frequently face in an excavation: tons of broken vessels (but still with great informative potential!).

Pottery piece: Rim sherd with red polished surface and white painted decoration (Petrie’s "Cross-Lined ware" C-Ware)

Pottery piece: Rim sherd with red polished surface and white painted decoration (Petrie’s “Cross-Lined ware” C-Ware)


Pondering Petrie’s Pots

By Alice Stevenson, on 4 February 2014

When you think about ancient Egypt what comes to mind? Plenty of things beginning with the letter ‘P’ no doubt: Pyramids! Pharaohs! Papyrus! Maybe even Petrie. But Pottery?…

Grumpy pots in the Petrie

Grumpy po[u]ts in the Petrie


Riding on the crest of a ware

By Rachael Sparks, on 6 August 2013

Felixstowe Crested WareI’m quite partial to memorabilia, and I have a passionate interest in the life and work of Flinders Petrie, not just because he’s a an impressively beardy archaeologist and legend, but also because for some years now I’ve been responsible for looking after his collection of Palestinian antiquities at the UCL Institute of Archaeology Collections. So I was quite chuffed when I did a search on Ebay a few years ago, and came across this inspiring item. (more…)