Monday, January 27, 2014

Of Course It Is Time for Another Mystery Artifact!

Hope all our loyal followers are staying warm as we head into another chilly week.  At least the 'heat wave' this weekend melted a lot of the snow.  I never would have thought 40 degrees could feel so warm!

It's time for another mystery artifact, and I think I've picked a real beauty this week!  Don't you agree?

As you can see, the object is almost exactly a foot long and dates from approximately 1825.  It is made of horn or possibly carved bone that has darkened with age and/or use.  Here is the best part, however - although it is hard to see in the above photo, it is carved along the entire length of the artifact.

Here are some close-up shots of the carvings, beginning with what I am assuming is the top of the object:

It has a lovely heart-shaped design with a sort of floral motif in the center.  In the middle portion of the artifact a house can be seen, followed by more flowers in a checked basket or pot.

Again, moving down the object reveals more floral carvings and another house, this one in a chimney-end style that reminds me very much of the Priests' House on a Jesuit property in Maryland where I did some excavations last summer.  Compare the carving here -

- to the beautiful early-18th-Century Priests' House on the site in southern Maryland (that's our excavation crew climbing the ladder to go on a special tour of the residence, which is normally closed to the public):

That image in particular makes me question this artifact's provenance.  What is it's life story?  Where was it created?  And how did it make it's way to East Central Illinois and into William Redhed's collection?

The last portion of carvings at the bottom of the object depicts what looks like wheat stalks:

Note the rounded edges at the top and bottom of the object - these just may be important clues as to the object's function!

As usual, gentle reader, take your best guess in the comments section here on the blog or on Facebook.  We have many other beautiful examples of this type of artifact in the collection.  I can't wait until Friday to reveal this artifact and show you some more of our collection!  Until then, stay warm!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, rats -- I have NO clue, and yet I know I've seen one of these before! Avidly awaiting other guesses!