Saturday, 16 March 2013

Digging up the past

There's not much to do when when the weather is frigid, raining, snowing. I'm tempted to just hunker down but that's not very interesting for long. JC and I visited the archeological society of Chartres to check out pottery fragments. Some time ago he dug up quite a few ancient fragments so he wanted to verify exactly what they were.

Gallo-Roman Chartres was on a pedestrian highway for merchants coming and going, small travelling groups buying pottery, breaking and dumping bits. So there's quite a bit available for archaeologists to 'potter' with. A young one ran a guided tour for us, in French. It was difficult for me to concentrate because of the pain in my shoulders but the display was well put together with a good educational value.

 The old methods of working potters wheels was presented and the very different shapes of containers identified whereabouts in Europe it was manufactured and for what type of product. Most containers were only used once, sealed with clay and wax.

These sorts of exposition are interesting to me because they don't exist in NZ, it having been inhabited barely 1000 years and not by an advanced civilisation.

The building housing the archaeological society is about to be torn down so they need to find another venue - perhaps more conducive to parking. The building is one of those 1960s/70s horrors reminiscent of the communist era in Europe - gey, boring, boxy. Very much like the Auckland City council building in Greys Ave, Auckland  NZ. At least the French have, right next door,  a wonderful architectural gem hidden by the 20th century monstrosities. They've decided it makes more sense to spend a wee bit more money to demolish and build anew (sustainably) than to try to renovate a 'dog'. Good for them.
Here's the front of the lovely old building that will remain:

They'll probably have an archeological dig before beginning reconstruction of council buildings.

We just had enough time before nightfall to drive to the Chartres Expo Centre to visit a display of minerals and fossils from around the world. Some were available for sale.

I was surprised and fascinated by the range of shapes and colours of the minerals from all around the world. They were so beautiful it was hard to believe the planet had made them all by itself.

 Here's a real mammoth's tooth. It's massive and you can see the roots hanging down at the bottom. As herbivores they had to do a lot of grinding of their food. France being in Europe, it's easier to see these sorts of things, for real. There were no plaster copies this day, everything was genuine.

There were a surprising number of fossils on display and for sale, entire or sliced into layers. Fierce sea beasts, delicate sea lilies, fish, molluscs and seashells. There were many sizes of ammonites, shark teeth, skulls.

Naturally there was the opportunity to buy jewellery made from many of the stones less valuable. One exhibitor was especially knowledgeable and said his dream would be to attend an exposition in NZ because there are micro-minerals extremely rare to be found in NZ. I wasn't aware of that.


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