Object Lessons

These short pieces offer a model for thinking (and writing) about individual objects: their aura, their communicative sensibility, the way they can evoke emotion and connect us viscerally with their makers and owners.

The authors do not speak about pottery. They speak about material things and their representations, and why things and their representations matter to us, what they tell us. Every time I pick up a piece of pottery, the first thing that I think about is “what is the connection here?” Figuring out how to animate and manifest that connection is what gives real meaning to what we do as archaeologists.

So consider these short pieces mind-expanding exercises in advance of working on your sherd biographies. Because there are many ways to think about a pot – and raw description is the least interesting of all of them.

Teju Cole, On Photography, New York Times 3.22.15

Margalit Fox, obituary for Leslie Buck, designer of the Anthora (the Greek-inspired take-out coffee cup), New York Times 4.29.10