ProjectBartmann goes global – the cultural impact of an iconic object in the early modern period

Basic data

Bartmann goes global – the cultural impact of an iconic object in the early modern period
01/03/2024 to 28/02/2027
Abstract / short description:
For the first time, an Anglo-German research team is taking a comprehensive global overview of the most successful of all German products of the early modern period, encountered on archaeological sites across the world: the Rhenish stoneware container with distinctive male bearded face mask, bulbous shape and applied medallions, variously known as the ‘greybeard’, ‘bearded man’, Bellarmine or Bartmann jug, and produced mainly in the period c. 1500-1750. Most were specifically made for export, mainly to England or the Netherlands, and they are found in a wide range of archaeological contexts around the globe, in major urban centres such as London and Amsterdam, on smaller sites and in shipwrecks. As a result of colonial expansion they spread across the entire known world and occur on early European settlements such as in Jamestown (U.S.) or Fort Orange (Brazil), a phenomenon that has not yet been adequately documented; aspects of their symbolic content and other cultural connotations are also barely understood. In addition, the current state of research on the production and trading of Rhenish Bartmann jugs remains fragmented and strangely at odds with both their original widespread distribution and popularity and the attention they now receive from museums.
Through the collaboration of German and English archaeologists, historians and scientists, and by drawing together a wide range of sources and approaches, we aim to expand our understanding of this highly significant and iconic artefact in a new international, integrated, interdisciplinary and interactive project to advance the frontiers of Bartmann research on a global scale. The central objective is to achieve a broader academic, professional and public understanding of the importance of the Bartmann jug, by studying the relationships between producer/source, market and consumer and the range of cultural contexts in which Bartmann jugs are found, thereby positioning it as a resource for understanding technological development, means of communication, trade and globalisation in the early modern period. Combining Anglo-German expertise, we will 1) review recent work on key assemblages and establish a definitive terminology and typochronology 2) establish closer fabric characterisation of Rhenish and English stonewares by chemical analyses, 3) study the social and cultural impact of the Bartmann, 4) examine the impact of Rhenish stoneware on ceramic innovation in Germany and England and 5) examine the impact of the Bartmann in global trade and consumption and as iconic objects in different cultural contexts worldwide. By carrying out a thorough review of archival sources and archaeological assemblages in Germany, England and selected consumer sites in north-west Europe and America, as well as assemblages from shipwrecks, the project will make an essential contribution to our objectives of understanding why Bartmann stonewares were so successful across the globe in the early modern period.
Material Culture

Involved staff


Institute of Prehistory and Medieval Archaeology (UFG)
Department of Ancient Studies and Art History, Faculty of Humanities

Local organizational units

Institute of Prehistory and Medieval Archaeology (UFG)
Department of Ancient Studies and Art History
Faculty of Humanities


Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

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