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origins of handles question

updated sun 18 oct 09


William Lucius on sat 17 oct 09

Yes=3D2C prehistoric Pueblo (or to be precisely PC=3D2C Ancestral Pueblo) p=
ry does display a range of handles. Although morphologically identical to o=
ur modern coffee mug=3D2C we know know that thier mugs sometimes were used =
drink a concoction of herbs=3D2C beans and eggs. Prior to the the develop=
nt of infrared residue analysis it was assumed that they were used to drink=
corn gruel. Recently=3D2C analysis has demonstrated that an unusual Chaco=
cylinder jar (which usually has more than one handle) was used to consume =
chocolate=3D2C which is impressive since the beans only grow way south of C=
co Canyon=3D2C NM - think Mesoamerica!=3D20


Allow me turn the discussion to a slightly more interesting (at least to me=
) avenue. As somewhat of of an old timer when it comes to archaeological c=
eramic analysis=3D2C it occurred to me that although present=3D2C handles a=
re h=3D
ardly common in most ceramic assemblages. Specifically=3D2C the Mesa Verde=
ug is common only in the Mesa Verde Region. Handled bowls seem to be restr=
icted to the adjacent Kayenta Region. Analysis reveals that in virtually e=
very case the handles=3D2C usually straps or coils but sometimes hollow tub=
as in ladles)=3D2C are attached by punching a hole through the vessel wall=
=3D2C through which the handle end is pushed=3D2C with the end being smeare=
d (o=3D
ften inexpertly) across the inner vessel wall. The simple use of slip scor=
ing to attach handles just does not seem to have been used=3D2C probably be=
use the firing technology used to create prehistoric pottery is very stress=
ful=3D2C as demonstrated by our ongoing replication studies. In other word=
s =3D
handles are contraindicated=3D2C but if you have to have one the only sure =
y of making sure that the vessel makes it through the firing is to mechanic=
ally attach it to the vessel. And given that the vessels were utilitarian =
(not meant to be admired behind a glass case) most of the handles ended up =
being knocked off sometime during the use life of the vessel. Indeed=3D2C =
often find that the resulting nubs were ground off if the vessel remained =
in use. Finally=3D2C there does seem to be an untested correlation between=
andles and ritual vessels=3D2C although handles are common on large water j=
s=3D2C including very innovative ones that are inset into the vessel wall t=
o =3D
preclude being snapped or bumped off. =3D20


William A. Lucius=3D2C Ph.D.

Board President and Director Institute for Archaeological Ceramic Research =