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Small Ceramic Objects

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Artifact Description

Two small ceramic artifacts recovered from the “Tortugas” wreck site defy interpretation. Both are solid cylinders of clay with flaring bases to which a single handle extends upwards to mid-body, while three crude lines and striations have been incised along the lower two-thirds of the object. Two additional incised lines are present on the summit of one of the examples.

In style and form, these objects resemble miniature thundermugs/servidors, candlestick holders or possibly flagons that have been suggested to have served as gaming pieces. A few board pieces were found at Castillo De San Marcos at St. Augustine, Florida. The crude decoration is reminiscent of Native American ‘Fort Walton Punctuation’ motifs, and a South American origin may be postulated. A rich tradition of miniatures production, often used as children’s toys, existed in colonial Mexico. Their use as thimbles for sewing has also been proposed, although the objects’ opening width seems to prohibit such usage. The tiny size of these objects may point towards a different function, and stringing on a necklace or bracelet has been proposed as well. The cessation of decoration half way down both objects may suggest a practical use as vials for small spouted bottles, the loop being intended to take a string to prevent them being parted from the vessel. Alternatively they may have been vessel stoppers.

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