Group D Cremation Lab Data Report

During this week’s cremation lab, Group D’s focus was on firing our pots in the actual funeral pyre! Before diving into the quantitative data which I collected throughout this process, I will include some (rudimentary) illustrations I made of the pyre’s composition, displaying the step-by-step process of how we built it and how we positioned our pots within it.

final steps of building the pyre
Though these drawings may not be quite photo-realistic, it is my hope that they will elucidate our methodology, and in the specific context of our group’s focus, elucidate where our pots went to be fired.

Throughout the lab, I specifically focused on my pot, so as to minimize potential confounders by controlling for the shape, position, and composition of the pot I was collecting data on. Below is a picture of my pot before firing, followed by a picture of it taken midway through the firing process, as it was turning black (though it mysteriously turned grey again later).

initial steps of building the pyre
above: my pot pre-firing process
below: my pot in the pyre (you can see it begin to turn black here)
my pot in the pyre (you can see it begin to turn black here)

In terms of the actual data I was able to collect during the firing process, I mainly focused on the temperature of my pot in the fire (to the extent that the temperature gun was able to reach it and give an accurate reading) and on making qualitative observations on the sensory experience as a whole. Below is a table in which I compile all my data, both quantitative and qualitative, organized by the time at which I recorded it.

Time (24 hour clock)Temperature of Pot (˚C)Observations
14:20placed my pot on the ground by one of two secondary fire pits
14:30placed pot inside of fire pit, periodically turning
14:45195looks like a “golden smore”
14:58230taking pot out of fire pit now, to be transferred to pyre
15:0276pots cooled dramatically in the time they were out of the fire
15:08pyre lit
15:30fire is raging and about 500˚ C – pretty scary actually
15:35719my pot is completely black
15:40811potential spalding, but largely intact
15:47760now grey in color, except for the two spald parts which remain black
16:24621survived! but looking a bit worse for wear
Observations regarding Pots on the Pyre

After the fire died down and we collected our pots, it became clear that the increased oxygen that the pots being fired on the pyre itself caused them to take on a much lighter color than the pots which were fired in a fire pit. However, given that there were no explosions, I would characterize both the efforts of my group and the class as a whole as very successful!

finished product!!
Here is my finished product, after removing my pot from the ashes and cleaning it the next day.

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