Monday, 17 December 2012

A Time for Sharing...

Today's artefact is one that symoblises two things; the social nature of food consumption and the best wetland Iron Age site in England....

Image taken from the BBC
It is the lovely Glastonbury bowl! This bowl is probably one of the best known artefacts from the assemblage discovered at The Glastonbury Lake Village.  The Village is thought to have been established in c.300BC and had declined by 100AD to the point of disuse.  The Village was built upon a wooden platform and formed an artificial island in a peat bog, known in my part of the world as a Crannog.  It is thought by 100AD the water levels had raised so high that the site had to be abandoned and as such it was quickly lost.  Until 1892 when Mr Arthur Bulleid discovered the Village, though excavation was conducted until 1892.  During this excavation much of the Village was unearthed and the wood was in extremely good condition, knowing that the peat and water was required to keep the Village it was reburied and studied from field notes and artefacts that it was safe to remove.  On the whole the site and its' artefacts are cared for by The Glastonbury Antiquarian Society, founded by none other that Bulleid.  They ensure the site is kept wet and run a small museum to display the many artefacts.  This bowl is a beautiful example of Iron Age craft and serves as a reminder of day to day life and the need for food; however the ornate pattern and attention to detail may be an indication of more than the need for a bowl.  I'm sure many of you have used a bowl today, but none quite as fancy I'm guessing?  The decoration and material suggest that the consumption of food was a public affair in this Village, may be only certain times a year, but public none the less.  Been as we are in the festive period it is easier to consider the social importance of consuming food.  It is present at most parties and gatherings, we feel the need to prepare our own food more at this time of year, little things like making our own cake, pastry or pie, that we may be wouldn't do other times of the year...why? Because Christmas is special, it's the time of year we let people know how important they are and by making our own foods it's a way of expressing it, through the act of sharing what we have.  There is nothing to suggest that a similar psychology wasn't present in Iron Age Britain, it wouldn't have been for Christmas, but, it may have been for the Winter Solstice.  This bronze bowl is a good example of an artefact that, with a little thinking outside of the immediate box, can provide us with more information than functional activities. 

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