Monday, June 6, 2011

Digging Into the Past

While attending the JC graduates exhibition, I noticed a construction site across the road - a mosque building was being extended.

A construction crew had spent 6 weeks hand excavating behind the behind the building down to about 15 feet below grade. Access to the site was along a narrow alley way between buildings so no heavy machinery could be taken to the site. This conveyor belt carried the excavated soil up to grade level.

Micheal was one of the hard working people whose job was to run between the top of the conveyor and the skip outside on the street with a rotation of 2 wheel barrows, one being filled while he emptied the other.

Wherever I go I look for old glass and pottery shards, usually on beaches but I spied some in this skip. I got talking to Michael and checked that he didn't mind me looking for treasures in his soil. I told him he was like an archeological digging down into the past.

Then he told me about some of the things he had found. They had dug up many old glass and pottery containers and literally hundreds of animal horns.
Animal horns! I needed some for my art work. Micheal put aside some for me.

He also gave me this old pot that looks like what was used to hold beer and other fermented drinks. I was very interested in this because in the 18th century my family were malsters in London. I don't know exactly where they lived but other family members had lived nearby to this mosque in Hackney, when it was a trendy new suburb in the late 1700s.
So it was a great day for finding treasures.
I declared the cattle horns when I entered Canada because we have had major problems with mad cow disease. Even thought the horns are fossilized, the officer sprayed them with disinfectant and they are now drying out and bleaching on my balcony at home. 
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