Kaolin pipe decoration dating archaeology

As “tobacco drinking” (which was the term used for early European smoking) became more popular, the pipe makers began searching for a better plastic medium to use for molding these implements.At that time, the people of China had been making ceramic dinnerware for hundreds if not thousands of years and were using white clay named for the Chinese region where it was dug. Sometime after AD 1600, a French Jesuit missionary living in China, sent samples of white Chinese made porcelain plates and bowls back to Europe.There is little doubt that the earliest pipes came from England. The Spanish had observed the Indians off Florida’s coastline smoking cigar-like rolled tobacco leaves in 1493 and had eventually adapted that form of smoking for themselves.

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The diameter of the hole in the pipe stem generally indicates the date the pipe was made.

No one knows for sure who made the first clay pipes.

The idea of smoking tobacco came from the American Indian, who had long fashioned their own clay pipes.

The smoker would periodically break off pieces of the pipe stem as they wore down and eventually discard the whole pipe, including the bowl. For archaeologists, clay pipe stems and bowls can help “date” a layer or a feature at a dig.

Bowls and stems might be decorated with pictures or the maker’s or user’s initials, which could possibly be identified.

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