The function of goods often changes when they are placed in new contexts. The Museum’s first director, Carl E. Guthe, collected the three miniature ceramic vessels shown here during the 1922–1925 University of Michigan Philippine Expedition. Guthe excavated the tiny “Boston Baked Beans” vessel in the center of this photo from a grave on Kouluan Island. The American candy company Necco made jars like this in the late 19th and early 20th century. Merchants used these jars to measure out scoops of candy-coated peanuts for customers. Residues on the interior of this vessel suggest that its Filipino owner used it as a container for lime used to prepare a betel chew (in which the nut of the areca palm is mixed with lime and wrapped in a betel leaf). Betel is a mild stimulant and often chewed for energy and in ceremonial contexts. The two other vessels are late 19th-century stoneware inkwells made in Britain or the United States and collected in the Philippines (the one on the left also from a grave).
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.