ACC2823.1 | Potsherd

Anonyme - Anonymous
Aboriginal: St. Lawrence Iroquoian
15th century or 16th century
13 x 11 cm
Gift of Sir John William Dawson
© McCord Museum
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Keys to History

The Iroquois village of Hochelaga, as described by French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1535, was surrounded by cultivated land and nestled against a mountain that gave natural protection against the cold north wind. Corn, beans and squash -- what the Iroquois called the "three sisters" -- were grown there along with melons. The fields, wrote Cartier, were the responsibility of the women who worked "at fishing, farming and other things."

Research: Marie-Ève Fiset. Validation: Alain Beaulieu, Chaire de recherche du Canada sur la question territoriale autochtone, UQÀM.

  • What

    This shard comes from a clay pot. Clay vessels of a wide range of sizes and shapes were used to prepare, carry and store food and carry water. To make a pot, a lump of clay was formed into a large ball, and a deep indentation was made in it using a fist. Next a round stone (anvil) was placed inside, and the clay was beaten from the outside with a wooden paddle until the desired shape was achieved. The pot was then decorated, dried and baked.

  • Where

    The laddered design, incisions and notches on this shard are decorations typical of the St. Lawrence Iroquois, who lived along the St. Lawrence Valley.

  • When

    Among the Iroquois, pottery is an ancient tradition. It first made its appearance in the Northeastern U.S. between 3,000 and 2,500 years ago, introduced form areas south of the Great Lakes.

  • Who

    Although Cartier never says so specifically, making pottery was also women's work, with the traditional technique being passed down from mother to daughter, from generation to generation.