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10 January 2007

Coffee Mugs

Millions of coffee mugs everywhere and all seem exceedingly unique. When you open your cupboard at home or at work you very rarely see a set of matching coffee mugs. I have loads and loads of coffee mugs at my house. I have some packed away in boxes because they were sentimental 50 years ago. I think we all have an overabundance of coffee mugs. I don’t know about you, but I have one or two favorite mugs and the rest collect dust, unless someone pops in (which isn’t very usual). Give the unwanted ones away to the Salvation Army, let them go free and let someone else enjoy them… or if you hate coffee mugs smash them on the ground and use the shards in your plant pots or… I daren’t say it!

So, where do coffee mugs originate from? Well, think about it. When hot water first came on the market, after fire, I bet some doughhead tried to hold the boiling water in their hands (cup-like) till they received scalding 3rd degree burns.

Enter the Beaker People. The Beaker people loved their mugs, aka “Beakers”, so much that they were buried with them as prestige items. So, who were these Beaker People? If you’re thinking about the Muppets you are completely off base by thousands of years. It began in Bronze Age Europe, 2500 BC – 700 BC. A Beaker burial is a single crouched inhumation, found in a bowl-shaped or bell-shaped mound-type grave, with prestige goods like a highly decorated pot, called a beaker. As, the Bronze Age People began farming, and did not travel like the hunter-gatherers by the preceding Neolithic People, Archaeologists have regionalized the beakers by it’s distinctive markings, since the same patterns were usually found in proximity to one another. Beakers were characteristically bell-shaped with trendy markings for its era, like rope markings, braided markings and a series of cross-hatching.

Other items of prestige buried with the inhumations in a beaker grave include: flint arrowheads, bronze daggers, copper daggers, awls, basket-shaped earrings and discs of gold, barbed and tanged arrowheads, stone bracers, battle axes and shale conical buttons etc.

Could you imagine the trouble the Archaeologists would have in this era trying to pinpoint a common thread among us. My favorite coffee mug has Ned Flanders from the Simpsons on it, my second favorite I think I stole from somewhere and it’s logo is some type of business. The Archaeologist, we’ll call him Dr. Creighton, would probably find Simpson coffee mugs all over the world. Creighton may hypothesize that everyone with a Simpson coffee mug must have come from the same region, likely Hollywood, and migrated in some fashion. Who knows. The point is nowadays a coffee mug is something we don’t really think of, I think we still have our prestigious favorites, but I don’t know about you, but I would never want to be buried with mine.

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