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Serving Dishes - In the Outlander series, a lot could happen when the characters came together for feasts and gatherings. Unfortunately, it is rare to have any documentation of the conversations and dramas that took place when people shared a meal in colonial Maryland. Archaeology can reveal what dishes people used when they came together, like the examples featured here, but the dishes themselves are silent witnesses to past meals. They cannot tell us what people said, or who was visiting when they were used, or what the diners were feeling. That is part of the reason why archaeologists at JPPM enjoy Outlander. The series builds a riveting story that is set among the artifacts that the archaeologists know so well, and it serves as a reminder that people, not things, are the real focus of archaeological research., Photo image of a North Devon Sgraffito earthenware bowl:North Devon Sgraffito Earthenware Bowl, Date: ca. 1660-1700, Site Name: Buck, Site Number:18KE292 - The exuberant floral and geometric decoration on this bowl is made with a technique known as “sgraffito.” The ceramic is made of a pink or reddish clay that was covered with a layer of white slip, incised for decoration, and then coated again with a lead glaze that turned yellow after firing. This type of ceramic was most popular at the end of the 17th century, so it would have been old fashioned by the time the Outlander series took place. People would prefer to serve guests with more current styles, but if the bowl survived long enough without breaking, it might well have remained in use for preparing food in the kitchen or serving private meals., Photo image of a redware bowl:Redware Bowl, Date: ca. 1710-1780, Site Name: Swan Point , Site Number:18CH354/313 - This little bowl, measuring about four inches in diameter, is somewhat of a mystery because its red earthenware paste and brown lead glaze are fairly generic. The bowl could have been made in either England or in the American colonies, where pottery production began soon after colonization started. This vessel is also quite difficult to date with any precision. It was discovered on a plantation occupied between 1710 and 1780, so archaeologists can be reasonably sure that it dates to the eighteenth century, but if it was divorced from its archaeological context and sitting on the shelf of an antique shop, it could just as easily have dated to the 1600s or 1800s. Its range of possible uses was also pretty generic—while it could have been useful for food preparation in the kitchen, it could also have been a serving dish for something like porridge or cornmeal mush., Photo image of a tin-glazed plate:Tin-Glazed Plate, Date: ca. 1670-1790, Site Name: Brookes Inn, Site Number:18PR386/1 - People who really wanted to impress their neighbors while entertaining in the 1700s set the table with porcelain imported from China.  Unfortunately for most hosts, however, Chinese porcelain, with its lovely landscapes and floral motifs, commanded the highest prices of any ceramic available at that time.  For those who could not afford porcelain, potters in England made less expensive substitutes, and this earthenware plate is an example of such imitation wares. Ceramic manufacturers in Europe did not know how to make vessels with the fine white clay body of porcelain, but they were able to make ceramics look white by adding tin-oxide to the glaze. Tin glazes were opaque enough to cover the yellow, pink, or reddish body of the vessels, and they created the perfect white palette for painted designs that mirrored those on Chinese porcelain.  Recovered from the Brooks Inn site in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, this plate contains several Chinese-style elements, including a large central peony, a fence, and bamboo along the upper right side.  Chinese floral motifs had a long range of popularity — from the 1690s to the 1770s — on tin-glazed earthenware., Image of a 1760 painting, caption reads:The scene depicted in the 1760 painting Kitchen Still Life with Parrot and Female Figure, by Peter Jakob Horemans, was contrived by the artist and probably does not represent an accurate view of an 18th-century kitchen. The dishes, however, do represent those that would have been familiar at the time, including a probable tin-glazed plate with blue-on-white decoration (detail). Painting information:Kitchen Still Life with Parrot and Female Figure, by Peter Jakob Horemans, 1760. Image from Wikimedia Commons, painting from Kurfürstliche Galerie München.