Posts Tagged ‘ovens’

On this day ten years ago…
via Iron Age toilet to early ‘Rayburn’: in prehistoric Shetland

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Ronan McGreevy Thu, Mar 22, 2018


Note: Not much in the way of food-stuffs mentioned, but there was an oven discovered so with more excavation…hope they find seeds or pottery made for cooking.

Terrace of houses from 11th century reveals treasure trove of  artifacts.


An archaeologist has described the discovery of a well-preserved Viking-era terrace in Dublin as an “extraordinary find”.

The four adjacent Hiberno-Norse properties with gardens and cobbled stones dating from the around the 11th century were found during excavations for a hotel development in Dublin.

The site in Dean Street is owned by the Hodson Bay Group who plan to open a 234-room hotel in the Coombe area next year.

Further excavations found two other settlements from a later period. One dating from the 13th to the 14th century had evidence of industrial activity including a tanning pit and two lime pits.

Vaulted cellars

The upper level dating from the 17th century revealed ovens, vaulted cellars, kilns and cobbled working areas.

The site has been waterlogged for almost the last millennium. As a consequence organic material, including leather shoes and wooden utensils, have been very well preserved.

Archeologist Aisling Collins, whose team made the find, said they were lucky to make such a discovery.

“It’s incredible. You could work on a site like this all your life and never find anything like this. It’s that significant. The artefacts we have found are very unique,” she said.

Among the objects found in the excavations were a copper alloy, decorated stick pin, a 12th century copper alloy key and worked bone objects. Shards of pottery were found in several locations.

The most significant find was a rare example of graffiti art carved onto a piece of slate depicting a figure on a horse with a shield, sword and two birds present. The slate was found to the rear of one of the houses which was made from wattle.

Industrial activity

There was evidence of industrial activity with the presence of a tanning pit, lots of animal horn and two lime pits.

To the north of the site was a stone built medieval well with steps leading down to the water. There were two medieval wall foundations also present.

Another layer led to the discovery of a copper alloy merchant’s weighing scales, a 13th-14th silver King Edward coin and medieval pottery – mostly local and some imported. Medieval floor tiles were discovered with very unusual ceramic bird that looks like a dove.

Hudson Bay director Johnny O’Sullivan said the company intends to incorporate elements of the discovery into the design of the hotel and to keep a section of the site for preservation.

“So many corporate hotels are bland, but we are delighted to have such a compelling story to tell,” he said.

The site has been cleared and the artefacts are now in storage. They will eventually be given to the National Museum of Ireland for cataloguing and preserving.





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Finding a cache of 2200-year-old coins buried in the remains of an Egyptian house sparked honours student Liesel Gentelli’s interest in coins, inspiring her to pursue postgraduate studies in forensics.

Ms Gentelli is one of two UWA archaeologists invited to excavate Tell Timai, the remains of the Greco-Roman town of Thmuis in Egypt.

A tell is a large mound formed by the remains of an abandoned town or city, and Thmuis was a port on a former Nile delta channel which has since silted up.

She says the coins she discovered during the dig were probably votive offerings placed under the building’s foundation to bring prosperity to its inhabitants.

The cache included 13 individual coins from the reigns of Ptolemy II, III and IV, making the building no older than 221 BCE.

The University of Hawaii invited Ms Gentelli and UWA archaeologist Sean Winter to participate in digs at the tell, which is threatened by encroaching developments.

Dr Winter was part of a small international team working at another part of the 91ha site which appears to have been a large open-sided shed.

He says they found an unusually large number of baker’s ovens for Egypt at that point in time, indicating the building may have been an industrial-scale bakery or perhaps a tavern.

“Nowhere in the published literature can we find an equivalent number of ovens in the same place,” he says.

They used the remains of ceramics, coins and charcoal to date the building to between 100 BCE and perhaps 10 CE.

Of particular interest is the former building’s rubbish pit, from which they identified mammal, bird, fish and mollusc remains.

Together with remains of amphorae—large stone urns used to transport fish sauce, wine, oil and the like—they built up a complex picture of Thmouis people’s dietary options and sources.

He says oysters, for example, swam up the Nile from the Mediterranean.

The researchers inferred this by comparing the oysters shellfish assemblage with others, including specimens from the former Red Sea port of Berenike.

“At that site all the shellfish were derived locally and comprised species that came from the Red Sea,” he says.

“In contrast all of the shellfish that we can identify in our assemblage comprise species native to the Mediterranean.”

He has written a paper, “Food Consumption During the First Century BCE at Thmouis” with co-authors Colleen Westmor and Courtney Bobik, which is due to be published next year.
Explore further: Haunting tales in ship-wrecked silver

More information: Winter, S., Westmor, C. & Bobik, C. (In-press). “Food Consumption During the First Century BCE at Thmouis.” In Pinarello, M., Woo, J., Lundock , J. & Walsh, C. (eds.) Current Research in Egyptology 15. Oxbow.

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Evidence of early Polynesian settlement dating back to the early 1300s has been uncovered within a stone’s throw of central Whitianga, in a discovery of national significance.

A team of five archaeologists has spent two months at one of the Coromandel Peninsula’s largest excavation sites by the Taputapuatea stream, at a housing development on the outskirts of the Coromandel town.

According to archaeologist Andrew Hoffman, the site has been identified as a Polynesian settlement from the 1300s used for cooking and gardening. It also had a specialist working area for making tools and repairing waka. Among the hundreds of artefacts unearthed are rare large sized hangi oven stones, moa fish hooks, basalt and chert rock tools, a large midden, and flakes of unused rock.

The site revealed a sequence of flooding events that enabled archaeologists to establish that Polynesians would use the site for a season and then move on.

Trenches dug up to 1.5m deep reveal profiles of layers of varied sediments and radiocarbon dating of site artefacts suggest the settlement was occupied between 1310 and 1490, said Hoffman.

A large deep hole lined with large black rocks revealed an earth oven that was still greasy. Hoffman said it was rare to find earth ovens of this size and it was probably used for cooking animals like seals.

Heritage New Zealand Maori heritage advisor, Makere Rika-Heke said this discovery was a reaffirmation of some of the old traditions kept by local people which have been played out along the landscape.

The site beside Taputapuatea stream is at the base of a hill that is home to Te Wahine Moeroa o Taputapuatea Pa.

The location has significant links to Taputapuatea Marae on the coast of Raiatea, Tahiti, the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the waka- voyaging ancestors who crossed the Pacific and established themselves in Aotearoa.

It is said that Kupe, the great Polynesian explorer who voyaged to Aotearoa from Hawaiki bathed in the hot springs of Te Whitianga a Kupe after he moored his waka in Mercury Bay. He named the stream and pa after the Tahitian Taputapuatea marae because of its similar natural flora and fauna.

Rapanui (Easter Island), Hawaii, Arahurahu Island in Tahiti, Moorea Island and a reef in the Kermedec Islands all have sites of significance referring to Taputapuatea.

The artefacts and 4000 photographs taken will be analysed and recorded over the next two months.

However, the public will not be able to view the site as it is in the middle of re-filling for a subdivision block.

Original article:

DIG THIS: Archaeologist Andrew Hoffman displays a stone adze recovered from an archaeology dig on a new housing development at Whitianga.

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Stour Valley Community Archaeology’s first excavation reveals tantalising clues at Bulmer site. Dr Carenza Lewis points out some of the features.
Emma Brennan West Suffolk chief reporter Friday, June 13, 2014
10:08 AM

A community archaeology group has unearthed some interesting clues to the ancient history of an area on the outskirts of Sudbury.

Stour Valley Community Archaeology (SVA) has just held its first excavation over two weekends at Goldingham Hall in Bulmer, on the Suffolk/Essex border.

The dig was made possible thanks to a grant of £2,500 from Dedham Vale and Stour Valley Environmental Fund via the Essex Community Foundation.

The group was also able to use equipment donated by Marilyn Matthews, the widow of amateur archaeologist Mick Matthews, who took part in many excavations in the Stour Valley and particularly enjoyed metal-detecting.

The inaugural day’s digging was dedicated to Mr Matthews’ memory, and his wife attended and saw the tools being put to good use.

The six days of excavating were supervised by a team of archaeologists from Access Cambridge Archaeology under the leadership of Dr Carenza Lewis, who is best known for her appearances on Channel 4’s Time Team and Michael Wood’s Story of England.

The site at Goldingham Hall was chosen because geophysical surveys carried out last year revealed many interesting features that were previously unknown.

SVCA committee member Nick Moore said the dig concentrated on three features, which after many hours of backbreaking digging and sieving eventually revealed a large complex containing a food preparation area with six bread ovens and a series of ditches filled with burnt pottery and bones.

Post-excavation analysis will reveal specific dates, but preliminary thoughts date the site to late Anglo-Saxon or Norman times.

Mr Moore added: “Many finds were discovered, including an in situ medieval arrowhead, and most incredibly, a ‘flint face’ found at the bottom of the post hole of the structure. We are wondering if this could have been a good-luck charm placed in the foundations of the building.

“We would like to reiterate our thanks to Marilyn for donating the equipment, which has been put to great use and is very much appreciated.” Stour Valley Community Archaeology was formed in late 2013 as a legacy of the Heritage Lottery-funded Managing A Masterpiece project.

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Topic: Jamestown Ovens

The ovens, excavated in an early colonial cellar, open another window on the first successful English colony in America.

Archaeologists at the early 17th century English colonial site of Jamestown in Virginia have been steadily unearthing a 25-foot-long L-shaped cellar located inside the enclosed area of the original “footprint” of the 1607 James Fort, uncovering two remarkably well preserved brick ovens that show evidence of extensive use before they were abandoned to time.

“These are some of the most intact ovens we’ve ever excavated here at Jamestown,” said archaeologist Mary Anna Richardson.[1]

What is more, they seem to have retained features that would, at least theoretically, permit a person today to use the ovens for baking. According to senior staff archaeologist Danny Schmidt, “these two now we could fire right up today” [1]. In addition to the brickwork constituting their foundations, they feature roofs that remain partly intact, almost as they may have been left by the early colonists.

More significant still, particularly for archaeologists, is what was left behind in and around the ovens, which may answer questions about how they were used and their significance within the context in which they were found. “We’ve got a good deposit on the floor from during their usage. Excavating that occupation layer will be the payoff to help us answer that,” said Dr. William M. Kelso, who leads archaeological research at Historic Jamestown under the Jamestown Rediscovery Archaeological Project. [1]

Examination of the framing arch on at least one oven suggests that it had a wooden door about 2 inches thick. Why a wooden door, which could easily burn? According to Kelso, a person could start the oven fire with the door open, then remove the coals and place food inside once the oven interior had reached the appropriate temperature, and then immediately close the door to contain the heat inside for the baking process.

Two similar ovens, determined to have been used for baking bread, were discovered in 2007 in a blacksmith shop/bakery cellar at another location within the Fort space, but these cellars were found much less intact.
Original article:
popular archaeology
Dec 14, 2022

There is also interesting information at a site devoted to Jamestown.

The Dig: December 2012–Historic Jamestowne

Where are We Digging Now?

Sturgeon Scutes in Front of the East Oven in Structure 191The sturgeon bones layered across the floor of the L-shaped cellar illuminate how important the river was as a source of food for early James Fort colonists.

Much has been written about Captain John Smith’s negotiations with the Powhatan Indians for corn, but we know that in 1608-09 the colonists were also working with sturgeon.

Sturgeon have long bodies, no scales, and can grow to 12 feet in length. They are bottom-feeders in the rivers and coastline of North America, spawning in fresh water and then feeding in the brackish waters of estuaries.

Smith mentions sturgeon early in the colony’s story: “From May to September [1607], those that escaped lived upon sturgeon and sea crabs” but by the fall “was all our provision spent, the sturgeon gone, all help abandoned. . . .”

VCU Ichthyologist Matthew Balazik with a Live SturgeonVirginia Commonwealth University ichthyologist Matthew Balazik said spring run adult sturgeon usually enter James River in late March and leave by June and some fall spawning Atlantic sturgeon can be in the river from late July to early October. He has studied sturgeon remains from early Jamestown and published a report in 2010 showing sturgeon from that era grew more slowly than sturgeon today, which may reflect today’s lower population density or higher water temperatures.

Balazik visited the L-shaped cellar December 14 and was excited to see the evidence of sturgeon from which he could estimate that they were between five and eight feet long. The sturgeon pieces are scattered on the floor near one of two brick ovens in the L-shaped cellar.

Smith wrote that in early 1609, “We had more sturgeon than could be devoured by dog and man, of which the industrious by drying and pounding, mingled with caviar, sorrel, and other wholesome herbs, would make bread and good meat. Others would gather as much tockwhogh roots in a day as would make them bread a week, so that those wild fruits and what we caught we lived very well in regard of such a diet.”

But when Samuel Argall arrived with two supply ships in July, he found many of the colonists hungry because they refused to sow their own crops. Many settlers had been “dispersed in the savages towns, living upon their alms for an ounce of copper a day,” and even Smith admitted that “our necessities was such as enforced us to take” the fish, wine, and biscuits onboard Argall’s ships.

Part of Argall’s mission was to find out how good the fishing was in the waters off Virginia’s coast. Fish were a valuable commodity to the English: their ships had been fishing off Newfoundland for decades before Jamestown was founded.

In the cellar, the Jamestown colonists may have been processing sturgeon for the home market. Sturgeons and whales are actually royal fish in England. According to a law enacted by Edward II (who reigned 1307 to 1327) they are the personal property of the monarch when caught and brought to English shores.

Argall returned to England and reported favorably. “[F]or fishing proved so plentiful, especially of sturgeon, of which sort he could have loaded many ships if he had had some man of skill to pickle and prepare it for keeping, whereof he brought sufficient testimony both of the flesh and caviary, that no discreet man will question the truth of it.”

That fall, the Jamestown colonists did not take care of the seasonal nature of the sturgeon food supply. A mysterious gunpowder explosion sent Smith back to England in November 1609, and the arguing factions he left behind in James Fort did not prepare well for the coming winter.

Colony Secretary William Strachey wrote of this time, “There is a great store of fish in the river, especially of sturgeon, but our men provided no more of them than for present necessity, not barreling up any store against that season the sturgeon returned to the sea. And not to dissemble their folly, they suffered 14 nets (which was all they had) to rot and spoil which by orderly drying and mending might have been preserved. But being lost, all help of fishing perished.”

That winter of 1609-10 became known as “The Starving Time.” Almost three-fourths of the colonists inside the fort died, and that spring the colony came within a few days of being abandoned. It appears that by June of 1610 the L-shaped cellar now being explored by the Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists was no longer in use.

The cellar is 25 feet long and aligns with James Fort’s first well, which sits 10 feet away to the west and at the same angle.

Original article:
historic Jamestown



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Topic: Brick oven at Jamestown?

A part of the original James Fort complex, newly found brick features date to the earliest years of the Virginia Jamestown colony.

Archaeologists have excavated two brick features in an L-shaped cellar near the first well of early colonial America’s 17th century James Fort. The cellar and the nearby well have both been dated to the earliest years of the famous Jamestown Colony (1607 – 1610), the early British-American settlement that is widely considered the “birthplace” of the American colonies and, by extension, that of the U.S.

The cellar measures about 25 feet long and is located in the area just west of the brick church tower and north of the previously found remains of the first (1608) church, aligning with James Fort’s first well, dated to the same time.

The first of the two structures emerged as archaeologists excavated in mid-July. This structure has been described as a brick “stack” with relatively precise mortaring. The second began to appear in August, about 10 feet away from the first. In contrast to the first structure, its bricks were in a disorderly pile, indicating a collapse.

In 2007, two similarly constructed features were excavated in what has been identified as a blacksmith/bakery cellar, located near the northwest bulwark of the Fort. Those features were detemined to be bread ovens, originally constructed in later years, or 1610 – 1611. According to Dr. William Kelso, long-time director of the excavations and head of research at Historic Jamestowne, the new structures in the L-shaped cellar may have been, like the bread ovens discovered earlier, used for cooking as part of a kitchen. He points to a large number of sturgeeon bones found within ash in front of the structures as a clue.

But, as fellow excavator Danny Schmidt has added, “We can’t be certain yet if the ash is from the building possibly burning down or ash coming from the brick features. If it is ash from the brick features, that ash would be an occupation layer, during the use of the cellar.” Associated ash was a defining find in the 2007 excavation of the blacksmith/bakery cellar. Moreover, the shape of a flue found in the L-shaped cellar looks similar to the flue also found associated with the ovens excavated in 2007.

The 2007 bread ovens featured brick façades with “turtle-shaped” spaces. Continuing excavations in the L-shaped cellar may reveal whether or not its brick features will show the same configuration.

Although only a third of the the L-shaped feature has been excavated, its fill has already yielded sherds of two Indian pots, an ivory ring, parts of a hammer and a pike, a bone handle to a knife, and many fragments of glass, lapidary, shell, and even some bone beads, among other finds. One of the bone beads is still wrapped in original fiber, indicating that it may have been used as a doublet button for clothing.

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