Archaeological Illustration

Yesterday marked the end of the third week of the Vindolanda Field School.  None of us can believe that we only have two weeks left!  While our first excavation period ended on Friday, we still headed to the site yesterday.  As it was pouring rain, we were all thankful that we would be spending our day in a nice, warm building because on the agenda was an archaeological illustration course. Not a big fan of drawing or art classes in general, I did not know what to expect from the course.  Little did I know that it would become one of my favourite things that I have done so far.  Like any course, there are certain things that you need to make it as successful as possible.  While most of us would never have seen these tools save for a few art majors, they were infinitely helpful in our artistic endeavours. The main portion of the day was spent learning how to draw pottery and this is what I enjoyed the most.

As a practice run Mark, our instructor for the day, had us draw a coffee mug. You too can follow along with a mug of your own and learn how to draw pottery accurately! The diameter of the top and bottom of the mug was discovered by placing both ends on a radius chart. The first of the tools used to draw pottery is known as a profile gauge. It allows one to form the shape of the object they will be drawing so it can be copied onto the page.  While doing this, you cannot forget a pencil and piece of paper!!  They are crucial to your work!!!  The metal profile gauge below is in the shape of one of our kitchen mugs.

Once the outline of both sides is traced, a caliper can be used to determine the width of the handle as well as the rim.  This instrument allowed us to calculate the measurement within a tenth of a millimetre.  At least we know we were being precise!


Now, you are finished drawing the mug on regular paper.  The last thing to do is copy the mug onto tracing paper.  Most of us decided to trace free-hand since it was easier than using a ruler.  We were all a bit nervous as the black markers had a tendency to smudge but the pictures turned out alright!

Holly’s final drawing of the mug

I want to extend a huge thank you to Mark Hoyle, our instructor, for taking the time out of his Saturday to teach us about archaeological illustration.  Thank you Mark!

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