Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Living history

I was at Roman Vindolanda in Northumberland yesterday. The museum, along with its cousin, the Roman Army Museum a few miles west, has just re-opened after a multi-million pound redevelopment, and the whole thing is looking superb.

Amongst the wealth of treasures on display, one little piece of information caught my eye: a caption for a case full of glossy red Samian pottery. The caption said that the maker's mark on some of the pieces of pottery was identical to that on pieces found in an unopened crate unearthed at Pompeii.

Here was a craftsman, doing his job, who is now immortilised, not just in one country, but in two, hundreds of miles apart, almost two thousand years after he was producing his work.

One human being, one magical little piece of history.


  1. My favourite thing about working as an archaeological illustrator was when I could see the finger and thumb prints of the maker in the (endless) shards of pot that I had to draw, such a thrill to connect over 2 thousand years.

  2. It's funny to think they were people just like us, isn't it? I think those human touches - the finger prints and the makers' marks - are so exciting, a truly tangible link with that distant past.