There are several pottery fragments in my teaching box. They always make students dream. The students’ eyes become greedy and they want to take these sad scraps home. They’re shy about touching them, even though these fragments are probably the most robust items in the teaching box.
These bits of pots are from Germany in the later Middle Ages. They’re hard to date, but they could be as early as late thirteenth century or as late as the sixteenth. I rely on others for the dating, for this is nothing near my area of expertise. I have the shards because it’s very much a friend’s area of expertise, in fact.
What’s particularly cool about them is that they date from the period when we have written cookbooks. I have my students read the recipes in the original language, take translations home, cook with them and then see and feel actual fragments of Western Europe that match those dishes. History students, foodie students, writing students: they all get a lot of inspiration from a few fragments of old pots.