Research § 15
Archaeology and pipes
On demand the Amsterdam Pipe Museum (former Pijpenkabinet) Foundation assists in dating and describing pipes and other smoking utensils from archaeological sources. The benefits are on both sides: the excavating institution gets the optimum results and conclusions from their finds and on the other hand the Amsterdam Pipe Museum is able to update its knowledge on the clay tobacco pipe. Recent founds, closed context within the excavation, information on find conditions and related finds, it all brings new knowledge and is a stimulus to further research.
Recent archaeological projects spread over the Netherlands have proven once more that the history of the clay tobacco pipe and the habit of smoking could be extended and refined. Studying new finds often means that new knowledge on the development of the product is gained, but also on the trade in pipes and the behaviour of the consumer. At most excavations interpretations of the pipe finds went that far that even a profile of the users could be given. Aspects such as fashion, personal taste, patterns of distinction such as the search for or the lack of status can often be reconstructed.
In times that smoking was still fashionable, the tobacco pipe played an important role in the material culture. Distinction with a pipe was a common phenomenon. Pipe finds often reflect the need for status or the lack of it, but even more specific patterns can be concluded. In the Dutch town of Middelburg for instance, military officers used the tobacco pipe to express their personality, the exuberant choice of their pipe made smoking in the barracks almost to a joke. In contrast to this, women in the almshouses in Alkmaar smoked for the pleasures of the nicotine: in complete absence of urge for status, they spent no money on their pipes, but only to the tobacco.
Pipe finds also indicate trade relations. In Bourtange, a fortified settlement far from every village in the north-east of Holland, the soldiers were fully depending on the imports from the town of Groningen. Nevertheless, many pipes were brought to this fortified town by soldiers between their lips or in their kit-bags. They now often prove were these people came from.
In southern provinces of Holland, for instance in Venlo, smoking has not been very popular at first. When in the 1730’s pipe making workshops were started up in nearby Westerwald, smoking also became fashionable in Venlo. The smoking of tobacco and the use of pipes got popular and soon pipes became a medium for distinction. Within some years the feeling for quality lies far above the average level in Holland.
In archaeology pipe finds can add new information to an excavation and provide a better and more interesting interpretation. Certainly, under one condition: the determinations have to be done professionally and from the best possible level of expertise. The Pijpenkabinet Foundation in Amsterdam is the most suitable partner for this work. This institution holds the national reference collection containing thousands of well-described pipe finds, next to a thorough documentation centre and a wealth of original sources on pipes and its industry. By using this expertise the finds play a role in the network of knowledge on this material. Those who are convinced that the clay tobacco pipe is the most renown indication for dating post-mediaeval archaeology is kindly invited to explore these possibilities with us.
The Amsterdam Pipe Museum (Pijpenkabinet Foundation) has given its expertise to archaeological projects in New York, Australia (shipwrecks), Spitsbergen (whale fishing settlements), France (the Louvre palace) and more recently in Holland in the cities of Alkmaar, Gouda, Middelburg, Vlissingen and Venlo. Often it concerns finds of many hundreds of pipes that are dated and described in their context. By the appointment and convened payment to the Amsterdam Pipe Museum, the institution sending in pipe finds receives a full written report and if they wish an article for a wider public.
For those who prefer to do the work themselves we advise to read the following article:
Some of our reports:
Kleipijpen, Chapter in: Schans op de grens, Sellingen, 1993
Gedachten rond een raadselachtig vondstcomplex (Thoughts on a mysterious pipe find), Amsterdam, 1995
Goudsche tabagie of gastvrij hoerehuijs (A Gouda smokers' house or a brothel?), Amsterdam, 1996
Kleipijpen, Chapter in : Wonen op niveau (Clay tobacco pipes, chapter in: Living with a certain status), Alkmaar, 1997
Kleipijpen (Clay tobacco pipes from Amersfoort, 2001
Drie eeuwen tabakspijpen uit Alkmaar, een analyse van de kleipijpen na vijftien jaar stadskernonderzoek (Three centuries of tobacco pipes from Alkmaar, an analysis of the clay tobacco pipes after fifteen years of archaeological research), Alkmaar, 2004
Vondstrapport Stadsschouwburg Middelburg (Reports on the finds from the municipal theatre in Middelburg), Amsterdam, 2004
Kleipijpen Visgracht/Grote Markt, Dendermonde, 2002, (Clay tobacco pipes fromt the Visgracht/Grote Markt in Dendermonde, Belgium, 2002), Amsterdam, 2005
De kleipijpen van Huis te Vleuten (The clay tobacco pipes of the House Te Vleuten), Amersfoort, 2005
Kleipijpen en ander rookgerei (Clay tobacco pipes and other smokers' utensils), Amersfoort, 2006
Zeventiende en achttiende eeuwse pijpen uit Vlissingen (Seventeenth and eighteenth century clay pipes from Flushing, Sealand), Amsterdam, 2006
Pijpvondsten van de Maasboulevard te Venlo (Pipe finds from the Maasboulevard in Venlo, the Netherlands), Amsterdam, 2006
Een groep eerste-generatie pijpen uit Den Haag (A group of first-generation pipes from The Hague), Amsterdam, 2006
Pijpen uit een stortlaag van 't Slot te Gameren, (Clay tobacco pipes from the castle at Gameren), Amsterdam, 2007
Tabakspijpen uit een gedempte gracht in de Bierstraat te ‘s-Gravenhage (Clay tobacco pipes from a former canal in the Beerstreet in The Hague), Amsterdam, 2007
Pijpvondsten van de Citadel te Antwerpen (Pipe finds from the fortification of Antwerp), Amsterdam, 2007
Kleipijpen uit de Kerkstraat in Aalten (Clay tobacco pipes from the Churchstreet in Aalten, the Netherlands), Amsterdam, 2008
Scheepswrak Dordtse Kil bij Dordrecht, Amsterdam, 2008
Pijpvondsten aan de Wijnhaven in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, 2008
Roken in een boerenkroeg in West-Friesland, Westerheem, 58-4, 2009
De pijpen van het scheldeterrein in Vlissingen, Amsterdam, 2009
Pijpvondsten aan het Bolwerk in Gouda, Amsterdam, 2009
For questions to the curator of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum click here to e-mail
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