First-hand experience with New Kingdom pottery

Over a month has passed since I came back to the office after spending 4 weeks on the wonderful island of Sai – time to share some of my experience! I have taken home loads of new impressions (new country, new culture and new people!) and acquired a lot of fresh skills in drawing pottery.

My main task on Sai Island was to draw pottery, in particular vessels and sherds excavated in the sectors SAV1 North and SAV1 West. This was something new: until February I was only digitizing the pencil drawings from the previous seasons, so sometimes it was hard to imagine the proper piece of pottery. With real sherds in my hands, I gained new experiences in dealing with ceramics.

My working table at Sai.

My working table at Sai.

My first working step was to take a close look at the object, especially for getting its dimensions, first of all, the diameter. Then I had to figure out the right orientation, to measure the preserved height and transfer it onto the drawing paper. Afterwards I checked the external profile again and finalised its outline – adding the inner profile in the next step. The last stage was to flip the outer profile from the section side (right) to the left side (front view) and to add characteristic features of the object, especially related to the manufacturing process.

Some of my drawings from vessels excavated in 2014 at SAV1 West.

Some of my drawings from vessels excavated in 2014 at SAV1 West.

Helping our inspector Huda with washing sherds and sorting these according to types and wares was another small task for me at Sai Island.

Huda and me, exploring the island.

Huda and me, exploring the island.

All in all it was a huge new experience to work directly on objects and hopefully not the last time.

Finally, some personal impressions from Sai Island:

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Drawing with our new interactive tablet


At the moment I am working with a new device – an interactive multi-touch pen display which is really exciting because it is tablet and monitor in one. So far I have drawn with a tablet only. First of all: drawing with this interactive tablet takes practice – you have to find the right position for drawing and get used to it. Arranging the original drawing you want to digitalize on the tablet is quite easy – we just fix the tracing paper directly with tape to the tablet.


My next step was to personalize everything, e.g. to calibrate the pen, to define key assignments and so on. I am using Adobe Illustrator for drawing, offering tools and applications of high precision. I can choose different line thicknesses, different styles of hatching, color schemes etc. – so there are no big restrictions in comparison to ink the pencil drawings.


But there is one major difference which is also a great advantage: with digital drawing you can easily erase mistakes with your pen. In our case, I just use the interactive pen upside down and my line gets erased again. Currently, I’m finalizing New Kingdom pottery drawings from the field season 2013. It will be exciting to produce in the upcoming season my own pencil drawings at the site thus being responsible from the first step of the documentation until the final digitalization.



Time goes by…

About 3 months ago I happily joined the AcrossBorders Team. In this initial phase some of my tasks were to finalize pottery drawings from the 2013 season, digitize the already inked ones from the 2012 season and labelling them for the database. So I scanned about 200 inked drawings of New Kingdom pottery sherds from Sai. At the moment I’m working on these with Photoshop: I check the quality of the scan, crop it, change levels, work with gradation curves and so on – as you can see in this example.


It is an interesting and very good training in various steps of the documentation of ceramics.