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Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween

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Author Topic: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween  (Read 1880 times)
Vlad the Impaler
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« Reply #90 on: October 31, 2009, 12:06:25 am »

Glass or terracotta bottles, used as witch bottles, have an interesting history exclusive of their role in magical activities. The one found on Tinicum Island was dark green covered with a bright gold patina, a result of its age and decomposition of the glass surface. This bottle also has a large, smooth "push-up" or indentation in its base. The shape of the bottle and the smooth surface of the push-up help date the bottle as having been made some time between 1730 and 1750, a period when manufacturing techniques were becoming more sophisticated. But most of the English witch bottles which are similar in function to the Essington one are not glass bottles at all: they are largely bellarmines, a highly popular type of 17th-century stoneware container purportedly named after Roberto Cardinal Bellarmino (1542-1621), a well-known conservative theologian much despised in Protestant Germany where these vessels were produced. Bellarmines are distinctive because they are typically adorned with the figure of a bearded man resembling the face of a warlock, one probable reason for their use as witch bottles. Large-bellied and narrow-necked, bellarmines served as drinking jugs and were imported to London and East Anglia to the north of London in considerable numbers during the 17th century. They also may have been used in the fabrication of witch bottles simply because of their sturdy construction. (See "Opening a Witch Bottle" for an example of a bellarmine.)
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