The clay pipe industry expanded rapidly as tobacco smoking gained popularity in both England and America. Historical archeologists excavating English colonial sites often find pieces of white clay smoking pipes on their sites. In the s J. Harrington studied the thousands of pipe stems excavated at Jamestown and other colonial Virginia sites, noticing a definite relationship between the diameter of the pipe stem bore—or hole—and the age of the pipe of which it had been part. This change in diameter may have occurred because pipe stems became longer through time, requiring a smaller bore. Louis Binford later devised a mathematical formula to refine Harrington's method Deetz
17th and 18th Century Marked Clay Tobacco Pipes From Ferryland, NL
Clay Pipe Gallery
The skill and experience of the individual undertaking the work will play a large part in determining how accurate and reliable any assessment of dating is, and specialist advice should certainly be taken when dealing with large assemblages or those where the pipe dating is fundamental to the excavated deposits. But it is certainly possible for a good assessment of date to be made by considering the key characteristics of any given pipe or pipe assemblage, guidelines for which are given below. They can be used to indicate whether a context group is likely to contain residual material, or whether it represents a coherent and potentially tightly dated group. They can also be used to check any dates provided by associated bowl forms, marks or decoration, which can be especially useful for smaller contexts where only a few such pieces are present. There are always exceptions but, in broad terms, stems can usually be allocated to one of three general date ranges by assessing their form, stem bore, fabric and finish. As a result, fragments usually show a clear taper along their length and can be quite chunky if the fragment comes from near the bowl.
Clay Pipe Making: The Victorian Way
Clay pipes have been used for smoking tobacco from the 17th century onward. The Dutch city of Gouda was a major production centre and remains of pipes produced there can be found all over the world. Because these items are rather fragile a lot of it was thrown away by our ancestors. Archaeologist can use the pipe fragments for dating when they excavate a site by using the principle that everything that was deposited with it or on top of it must be placed there after the pipe production.
Often we hear about how prevalent they are throughout archaeological digs. They are, in fact, found in the majority of sites inhabited by colonial Americans. In these digs there is often a mix of imported and domestic pipes.