Wednesday, May 26, 2010


This corner of my house was the place where the farmer kept pigs.

The big door on the right provides access to a kind of prison cell, about two meters wide and two meters deep: large enough to house a hog, a sow and their offspring. The trap door on the left opens inwards, enabling the farmer to feed the pigs. On warm days, this corner of the building must have had a powerful smell.

The earth in the corner below the trap door is unusually fine, almost sandy, for reasons I don't know. Maybe former Gamone dogs used it as a cool dusty place to drowse. I've noticed that my Sophia is vaguely interested in this soft earth, and the presence of an oval depression suggests that she probably takes a nap there from time to time. Well, this morning, I was intrigued to see Sophia using her snout energetically to eject three ceramic fragments from the depression. She even walked away with one fragment clenched between her teeth. Was it possible that these old fragments might still retain odorous molecules that my dog was keen to "taste"? I promptly washed the fragments, and tried to imagine their origin.

It had been a fine earthenware bowl, no doubt created on a potter's wheel. But much of the glaze coating on the inside has been chipped away, suggesting that it had been produced by an inexpert craftsman, who hadn't fired the object correctly, maybe in a primitive kiln. I glued the fragments together.

It looked like an ancient soup bowl.

Even with so much of it missing, the old bowl retains its elegant form.

I imagine a farmer, once upon a time, sitting here at Gamone, gazing out towards the Cournouze and scooping up his meager vegetable soup from this lovely old bowl.

Although I've always known that my dog was unusually intelligent, this is the first time she has displayed a taste for archaeology.

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