Update from the Garstang: Predynastic pots and the Festival of Archaeology

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My last session at the Garstang was another busy one. As well as getting on with more artefact photography, the museum was hosting a talk by Roland Enmarch on the Book of the Dead as part of the Festival of Archaeology.


Festival of Archaeology

The Festival of Archaeology is an annual UK-based festival organised by the Council for British Archaeology. Every July, museums, universities and other heritage-based organisations run events based around the theme of archaeology.

This year, Dr Roland Enmarch did a couple of talks on the Book of the Dead as part of the festival. I wasn’t around for the first talk, but I was for the second one. There was a great crowd of people – about as many as you’d want to fit into the exhibition space in one go.

Roland gave a great talk, giving the low-down on the Book of the Dead and some funerary practices in general. He even took the group into the rest of the museum, and an hour-long talk turned into two-and-a-half hours!

Roland's standing in front of the coffin panels mounted on a wall. A group of people is standing around the display.
Roland describing the inscription on some coffin panels


Looking at Roland from behind some of the group.
Fascinating his attendees


Roland talking to the group.
“This big.”


Predynastic pots

At the request of the museum, I photographed a couple of Predynastic pots.

The first was this marl-clay pot, decorated with geometric, red criss-cross painted lines and a moulded, wavy line. The colour of the pot and the red-painted decoration make this pot undeniably and immediately recognisable as (late) Predynastic in date.

A tall, thin ceramic pot. It's orange in colour with a red painted criss-cross pattern.
Predynastic marl pot


Although I do love the Predynastic marl pottery and their wonderful decoration, my favourite of the day was actually a very plain, white alabaster pot.


Well, although not immediately obvious, alabaster is a bit translucent.

Knowing this, I decided to try lighting the pot a little differently:


The image shows how I lit the alabaster pot. My mobile phone is propped up behind the pot, held in place by a spare lens.
High-tech photography…


If you’re struggling to work out the photo above, it’s my mobile phone propped up (gently!) against the back of the pot and held in place by a spare lens. (The DIY Photographer would be proud of me!)

I had the phone’s LED flash light turned on. And, adding in the tiniest bit of light from my panel light from the front, this is the result:



A small, white jar with a square handle running between the neck and the base.
The beautiful translucency of alabaster


I must say I’m quite happy with the preliminary results. I have more work to do, such as the focus stacking to get a really sharp image. But, I was so pleased, I really wanted to share it with you now.

You never know, I might even turn into a bit of an alabaster fiend … anyone got any spare alabaster pieces hanging around …? 😀

Have you come up with any particularly inventive or creative ways of photographing an object? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments section.

All photos in this post and on the site in general are © Julia Thorne, unless otherwise stated. Please don’t take without seeking permission first.

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