Adaptive Reuse

As my readers may remember, I’m fascinated by the idea of adaptive reuse (in all forms!). In our recent work in the man camps of North Dakota, for example, I was interested in how residents used shipping pallets for a whole range of functions. In fact, pallets are sufficiently useful for purposes other than moving bulk goods around the world, that they are stockpiled for recycling on a global scale.

In antiquity, ceramic vessels appear to be ubiquitous. They not only served as tableware, but also served as storage, transported bulk goods, and performed a range of industrial functions from smelting to the production of other ceramics. Ceramic vessels also a variety of functions after they were no longer suitable for their initial purpose. The most famous use of recycled ceramics is probably as ostraka which were used as everything from voting chits to notepads.

We have an rather typical conical amphora toe which has been punched through and used as a funnel.


The other possibility is that these storage vessels also served as convenient dispensers of liquid. A stopper could be put in the hole, but that is probably more likely for an amphora toe with a smaller hole on the side of the toe. We happened to find one of those as well:


The reason I’m posting about ceramics so much this week is that my co-director Scott Moore and I have spent a good bit of time either pre-sorting or washing pottery. It’s boring, and it gives me time to think:


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