The people of Whitechapel

21 Jan 20

The theme of this month’s update is ‘people’. We’ve collected together some of the more unusual finds that in some way represent the human form - in plaster, plate, clay pipe and ceramic.

The people of Whitechapel
You might remember the plate from last month’s post showing a man being expelled from a bar after gambling his money away. More unfortunate chaps are depicted on the below fragments of a late pearl-ware nursery plate, probably dating to c. 1820-1870, labelled the ‘Awkward Squad’. This was a common phrase in the 19th century for a group of recruits who were incapable of understanding discipline or carrying out their duties.

As well as pictures on plates, we have several objects that are 3D representations of people. Another depiction of a soldier or military figure can be found on this fragment of clay tobacco pipe, dating between c. 1840 and 1900. Archaeologists have made a 3D model of this object so you can view it from all angles.

The excavation also revealed this whistle in the shape of Mr Punch from the Punch and Judy puppet show. The object was probably a child’s toy, made from porcelain with overglaze painted highlights and dating to the end of the 19th or very early 20th century.

We’re affectionately referring this next figure as the Venus de Whitechapel! Archaeologists aren’t sure quite what it depicts, perhaps a little classical god or goddess. It is made of unglazed porcelain and also dates to the 19th century. You can view this as a 3D model here. 

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