Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Guadalajara lid passed around in class.
Day 2: Unglazed Coarse Earthenware (Part 3: European) 

Besides prehistoric pottery and olive jars, there are many other unglazed coarse earthenware sherds found in Florida.  Below are my notes from class with links to the amazing FLMNH Digital Type Collection.

Bizcocho  Spain 1500-1550 
Very fine very white and not glazed, also red.  Not a lot of visible temper.  Soft, porous, THIN.  Was used for bowls, cups, plates, and vases.  Molded patterns on bodies or rims.

Orange Micaceous Iberia, 1550-1650
Very thin, small vessels, bright orange, little flecks of mica in it so it sparkles.  Good 16th century marker.  Sometimes has chips of stone, feldspar.  Introduced after Menendez (some think it's Portuguese).  Used for smaller tableware vessels like platos, pocillos, or tazas.

(I took a video so you could see it sparkle!) 

Redware  Origin unknown, 1500-1750
Orange to brick-red paste with mineral inclusions.  Used for utilitarian wares like bacins, bowls, or jars.  Very common on 16th and 17th c Colonial sites.

Feldspar Inlaid Red Ware   Iberia/Panama/Mexico, 1500-1600
Red ware can be just red or have feldspar chips in it.   Moorish origin, Islamic influence.

Mexican Red  Mexico, 1550-1750
Red painted or burnished over buff or reddish sand-tempered paste.  Often molded.  Similar to Aztec redwares made in Mexico but were probably made in a variety of production centers. 

Guadalajara Polychrome Guadalajara, Mexico, 1650-1800 (but still produced today!)
Fine greyish paste painted with earthly pigments.  Originally called Aztec IV.  Spaniards liked it, made Aztec pottery in Spanish forms with Arabic motifs.  If you bite the clay or get it wet, has a funny odor.  Women thought it would help skin looked great back in Spain, but some actually ate it (geophogy!) eating clay for nutrients. 

And from the library:

Check back next time for Day 3: Slip decorated lead-glazed pottery!

Other posts in the #ceramics101 series (will provide link as they are posted):
Week 1 - introduction
Week 2 - Unglazed and coarse earthenware: Part 1 Prehistoric; Part 2 Olive Jars; Part 3 European
Week 3 - Slipware and lead-glazed pottery
Week 4 - Majolica- Morisco tradition
Week 5 - Majolica- Italianate tradition
Week 6 - Majolica- Mexico City tradition
Week 7 - Majolica- Puebla tradition
Week 8 - Delft & Faience
Week 9 - Porcelain
Week 10 - Refined Earthenware
Week 11 - Stoneware

Text and images: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff using notes from Dr. Deagan's Fall 2012 Historic Ceramic Analysis class at Flagler College.  Please note any errors and inaccuracies are mine.  Endless thanks to Dr. Kathleen Deagan to giving her blessing to this blog project last year.  


Florida Museum of Natural History, Digital Type Collection, Historical Archaeology (

Deagan, K. A. 2002 Artifacts of the Spanish Colonies of Florida and the Caribbean 1500-1800.Volume 1: Ceramics and Glassware.  Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press (Volume 1). (paper). 

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