When the Revolution reached the countryside: Use and destructionof Imported Wares in Alta Gracia, Córdoba, 1810

International Journal of Historical Archaeology

Artículo publicado en Historical Archaeology, volumen 9, número 3, pps. 195 a 207, correspondiente al año 2005, editor Charles E. Orser Jr., ISSN 1092-7697, publicado Springer US, New York, U.S.A.

Abstract

During the 1970’s, excavations were conducted in Alta Gracia, Córdoba, Argentina, in a compound that once was a XVII-XVIII th. centuries Jesuitic Convent and is presently a museum. During these works, an amazing amount of historic materials never studied before were discovered inside a sealed privy.  After studying such materials, we were able to identify the findings as objects that  once were the property of Santiago de Liniers, who successfully resisted and expelled the British invaders from Buenos Aires. As a result he was appointed Viceroy, though eventually he was shot in 1810, for confronting the Independence movement. Our hypothesis is that these objects were thrown into the privy as a gesture of contempt associated with his capture and execution.

Viceroy Liniers and his execution in 1810

During the year 1806 and again in 1807, British military forces attacked the city of Buenos Aires and penetrated into its territory, with the purpose of conquering the southernmost portion of the Americas. Both times, with greater or lesser hardships on both sides, the imperial adventure failed and the city was reconquered. Surprising as it may seem, a well organized army was defeated by civilians and a group of poorly armed soldiers in his tatters, who faught bravely to defend a small city lost at the extreme of the Spanish Empire. Santiago Luis Enrique de Liniers (1753-1810) was amongst those who organized the resistance against the second invasion, a French trader who had settled in the city where he arrived a short time before, in the pursuit to develop in Buenos Aires his many capabilities in the fields of industry and commerce, although eventually he would switch to politics and military activities (see Ortega 1944 and 1948; Groussac 1953). He was a respected personality at the time, and literature about him is so abundant that it would be difficult to list it in full. After expelling the foreign army, a political movement at the heart of the social groups related to power took shape, and the Spanish viceroy, charged with leaving his post, was replaced by Liniers in an action that has been seen as the first step towards independence.

In 1809, in an attempt to solve the complicated political situation, a new Viceroy was appointed by Spain, and therefore Liniers had to step aside; but the confusing struggle for power that had already unleashed forced him to move to Mendoza as the only way to prevent being taken to prison in Spain; we should recall that he was a Frenchman, and to some, an usurper. On his way to Mendoza, he reconsidered and decided to settle in an ancient Jesuitic estancia located in a remote place amidst in the central portion of the country, known as Nuestra Señora de Alta Gracia. There, in 1643, the Society of Jesus had settled down and built a huge rural establishement and a church, both remarkable examples of the quality baroque architecture typical of northern Europe. He had over three hundred African or Afro-descendant slaves, while he shared his life with three white men only and a small indigenous population not quantified as yet, but definitely low in number (Grenón 1929). Liniers’ exile was a political move, a way of neutralizing an individual who not only was able to gather remarkable power around him, but one who had beeen the core of a popular movement that irritated Spain. But simultaneously he had saved the viceroyalty and supported the traditional institutions, and hence, he had not led a true revolution against the King. His posture produced abundant and powerful enemies from all sides: to patriots, he was both a heroe and a traitor, to the conservatives he was a foreigner, a progressist and perhaps a dangerously illustrated man. In addition, an open, liberal mind in the field of his personal relationships, particularly in regard to his son-in-law’s sister, raised scandal within the narrow-minded and traditional society.

The true Revolution burst in 1810, when a group involving the most important personalities in the city declared liberty and the first independent government was created. Liniers, placidly established as a grand lord in his new estate, where he devoted to agriculture and cattle raising reacted immediately: together with the bishop and the governor he gathered an army to reconquer Buenos Aires from the hands of the revolutionary and to bring the situation back to normal. At that time he wrote: “… I am persuaded and convinced that Providence has chosen me to defend Buenos Aires from all kind of enemies” (Grenón 1929: 122). In his view, what was happening in Buenos Aires represented a true attempt to destroy the order established by God and the King, an order meant to be everlasting, and apparently once more it was clear to him that he was the chosen one to revert the situation. Things, however, were no longer the same: the independentist movement was extremely powerful and spread rapidly throughout the territory, in a country that had undergone profound changes in just a few years. His uprisal against the new government, the organization of a new army and his association with Church members and other personalities of the local aristocracy, were understood as an offense that was to be neutralized without any further consideration. To that purpose, an armed group left Buenos Aires with orders to capture and execute him on the spot. On August 5, the leaders of the movement were found and twenty days later they were all executed by shooting. Thus, one era came to an end and led the way to a new one in today’s Argentina.

Wares found inside the privy of the ancient Jesuitic convent

During the restoration works carried out in 1971-1974 at the Jesuitic estancia and church in Alta Gracia, excavations were undertaken in every room, gallery and patio of the buildings. Back then, historic archaeology was non-existent in the country and trained technicians were nowhere to be found. Thus, this represented a pioneer study in Latin America directed by architect Marta Slavazza and strictly scientific in nature, notwithstanding the lack of previous experience (Slavazza, personal communication, 2000). Floors and walls were tested to gain information about the activities carried out in each space and to provide restorers with the necessary data for their architectural works. The results are visibel in one of the best preserved buildings of the XVIIIth century, which was subsequently turned into a museum. But due to problems alien to the archaeological and restoration works, all the information, together with the photos, drawings, plans and artifacts remained unpublished and forgotten in an inadequate warehouse, while the boxes, because of their weight, began to flatten one on top of the other along the following twenty years. It was in 1998 when the new authorities at the museum showed a renewed interest in the subject and requested my help to open the boxes, having found thousands of sherds and remains of what once was the daily life in the site from the XVIIth to the XXth centuries.

Most significant in this archaeology of archaeology was the finding of material evidence of what we believe was a specific moment in national history, connected with events that may have taken place around the execution of Santiago de Liniers in 1810. In addition, and beyond the political events widely described in documents, other home-related and domestic situations did undoubtedly take place though they have gone unnoticed in written documents and left out of history; this appears to be the material expression of one of them. I’m referring to the finding of two complete wares –one Creamware, one Pearlware-, plus several other hundreds of artifacts that disappeared (this concept, so closely associated with the military dictatorships from Argentina, consists in eliminating making physically and intellectually dissapear everyone and everything opposing the prevailing ideas. The idea exposed here may be associated with such concept, with the corresponding chronological transference) inside the large cesspool that the Jesuits had built. These were not useless parts thrown into the garbage pit as they deteriorated or became damaged: in this case, two almost complete sets and hundreds of other unharmed objects were disposed of in a single event, in a place where never before or after other refuses were discarded.

The estancia included several facilities: the church was a fine architectural work from the XVIIIth century, rather unusual because of its curved walls design; adjacent was the Residencia or convent, with the patios, rooms, halls, constructions for varied uses, the forge, service areas and warehouses. Next to it another large building was found: the obraje or production workshop and space; a bit farther away the area with the salves quarters known as the Ranchería, and still farther the stockyards, a semi-artificial lake retained by a ditch or tajamar, a large orchard and a windmill. The Residency displays the shape of a large two-storey L, with one of the sides placed to the north and the other one to the west of the main patio. On the shorter side, the Jesuits built a bath system consisting of a double wall with a 50 cm separation where the privies –mere wooden benches with holes- drained into a lower gutter that run from the patio to the outside of the building and into the nearby lake. The bath’s interior was washed up by the rain, or alternatively,  water from the nearby well was used, connected by a channel.

The excavations revealed that the following artifacts had been thrown into the privy: in the first place, dirt with stones and ceramic fragments, then the tableware, organic animal remains, pieces of cutlery, weapons and bottles among other things, all of which was first covered with a thick layer of lime -the only system known in those days to destroy organic materials and prevent diseases-, and then with additional dirt and gravel. The great majority of the objects found were contemporary, with just a few earlier artifacts and none from later times, making it easy to date the event. The stratigraphy inside the cesspool indicates that objects were thrown first -and most probably- in one single operation, then the dirt followed, penetrating into the already broken fragment, then the lime layer, thrown down from the first cesspool in the upper floor, and then the rubble that gradually filled the remaining space as it was systematically thrown from each hole in the cesspool. Needless to say, the privy could be no longer used (the reconstruction was possible thanks to the documents found in the museum archives).

The materials found include: 561 fragments of English Creamware china from Davenport and Queensware round dishes, a soup bowl with a lid, a serving spoon, a fruit bowl, large cups, platters, chamber pots and other forms still to be identified; in addition, there were three fragments of a Whieldon Tortoishell dish, six decorated fragments with black printed decoration, seven with a Neoclassical fringe from a creambowl, five with painted flowers, and five with Mucha ring-shaped decoration. In other words, the undecorated Creamware china represents 95.77% of the sample, and we assume it reflects one single table set. Pearlware china is represented by 526 fragments, most of which are decorated with blue imprints (50.20%) and which -undecorated sections included- represent a much higher figure which we have interpreted as at least a second complete set of china. There are also several fragments of other decorative motifs, such as Decorated Blue Rim, Floreal hand painted and other ring-shaped ones, though quantities are low (always less than 15 fragments of each) and which usually correspond to one single piece. European porcelain was scarce: 26 fragments of at least one cup and a very delicate dish. Spanish majolicas are limited to one cup and one dish both from Triana, tile fragments, bones, and 296 fragments of dark green glass bottles of English and French wines (55%), Dutch gin (45%), and some glass from windows, glasses, goblets and large vases. The remaining materials consist of an indefinite amount of very deteriorated objects of metal and bronze, 437 fragments of local and regional ceramics that were a part of about 25 bowls or vessels, one candlestick, two pieces of cutlery with a carved bone haft, a pipe thought to be of the Afro type (see Schávelzon 2003), two spindle whorls, six necklace beads, two perforated animal teeth probably used as pendants, and one figurine. Just a few objects produced in another region were identified: at least one vessel originated in Mendoza, one glazed chamber pot originated in Tucumán, and several ceramics from the Littoral, with datings that vary from the late XVIth to the XVIII centuries.

Interpretations

Who could be the owner of such table sets and objects, and of the wares in particular? Undoubtedly, noone could have owned them before these pieces were created, that is, before 1770 approximately for the Creamware chinas, and 1780 for Pearlwares. The trademarks are from John Davenport, in Longport, and the timeframe of their manufacture may be established between 1774 and 1810, perhaps closer to 1805-1810. The bottles correspond to the 1770-1820 period, as also the big bottles, while the Dutch bottles of gin are as well from that period. Interestingly, there is no china or glass from after the first quarter of the XIXth century. Only the locally and regionally manufactured ceramics show a different, earlier chronology, while fragments in fact correspond to a very small number of objects, and nearly always to one or two of each type.

History indicates that after the Jesuits were expelled in 1767, the Estancia de Alta Gracia was placed under the responsability of the Secular Board ( or Junta de Temporalidades) for its administration and sale, until 1773; then it was turned to José Rodríguez (1773-1787). He was a well-known and powerful individual in Córdoba, though he failed to pay the debt of $ 44.527 for the acquisition, and was forced to give it back, with an embargo, to the Board. Subsequently the estancia was sold to Manuel Rodríguez (1787-1796), his eldest son, who took charge of the administration for a salary of $ 500. Thereafter, the property was switched to Victorino Rodríguez and Antonio Arredondo (1796-1810) who bought it for $ 9.000 in an auction arranged to cover the debt of Rodríguez’ grandfater; the estate was further rented to Ramón Olmedo first, and then to Manuel Derqui (Grenón 1929). This Rodríguez was also a remarkable personality: he was the chairman at the university, a lawyer in the Real Audiencia, and finally governor, in 1806; he was shot with Liniers in 1810. In short, the building changed hands several times, there was never a period of particular wealth or splendor that would account for any of the owners enjoying such highly valuable wares, and whenever the owners were important people, they did not reside there but simply rented the property to third parties. This reduces the possibility that these wares we are attributing to Liniers were not in fact his. Liniers bought the place for $ 11.000, and was the first owner who really resided there for five full months in 1810; he expanded the agricultural lands, built a new “modern kitchen”, and made some important changes in the building rendering it more adequate to a high-ranked residency. He was also the first to lead a somehow luxurious life –he was a former viceroy after all-, and the one that would have been in a position to acquire and use in that place that kind of imported wares.

After his execution, his family remained in the estancia until 1820, when due to economic hardships they were forced to sell to José Manuel Solares, founder of the town of Alta Gracia in 1865. Although he was an important personality at the time, his economic capacity was much lower than Liniers’ (Rustán, et. al 1981).

Even though we lack accurate information on the events that unfolded in the house with Liniers family during his persecution and final execution, we feel that life there must have been very hard. As said, ten years later they were forced to sell out and leave. In my belief, it was at that time when all this china was thrown into the cesspools in an attempt to erase every sign of the past. Looting?, revenge?, an attempt to forget?, a strategy to cross out the past? There’s no way we can know. My hypothesis is that this was the tableware, kitchenware and daily life objects of the Liniers family, and that the purpose of such action was intended to reach beyond merely discarding unwanted things: these objetcts were meant to disappear. Once and for all, and through the dirtiest possible place. Was this accomplished by his enemies when they stormed in the house to capture him? Was it a family initiative, to throw everything away on the spot, or perhaps later when they left the house, maybe as an expression of hatred towards the place or the situation? Was the the new owner who did this to leave all traces of the past behind? We have reached the limits of historic archaeology.

Still, there are two other options that it would be wise to consider: first, that these objects were disposed of when the cesspools were sealed, or in other words, that they were discarded merely as part of the garbage and the rubble at the time of building a new sanitary system. This hypothesis is tempting, and it is not uncommon to use garbage to cancel a pit; however, this would not explain why two tablewares were thrown away at the same time, as they were not old, they were not worn out, they were not chipped and they were still very much in fashion. We should recall that this event cancelled the bathrooms and may have caused serious trouble in the place, unless there were others ready to use, of which there is no evidence, at least until much later.

The second hypothesis is that the objects were disposed of much later in time, because they were old and not fit to be used any longer. This could have also been the case, though then we should have to explain, somehow, the absolute lack of new objects contemporary to the event of destruction.

The documents on Liniers’ tableware

From the documental point of view, we know that Liniers had a remarkable economic capacity. When he married, his declared patrimony amounted to $ 20.800, including all sort of jewels, in addition to the corresponding dowry of his wife. When he made the decision to move he had a hard time regarding the transportation of his belongings; following his execution, the embargo of his possessions in Alta Gracia represented an extended inventory work by government officials, as only his library was formidable. Unfortunately, this inventory only refers to: “Platters, small dishes, dishes, soup bowls, saucer bowls, milk dishes, coffee cups: everything in white china with a yellow rim”. The presence of squat long-necked bottles -Ducht gin vials-, liquor cases, “a chest for medicines” containing a few small flasks, and “a large earthenware jar, two varas high” (Grenón 1929: 159) has also been recorded. Almost undoubtedly we may identify the “yellow rimmed” ware as a creampot found in the set and this is all that may be specified; however, the reference is indicating that Liniers was in possession of at least one Creamware table set. Were there other table sets? This is not an idle question because evidently the inventory is incomplete, as among other significant things, it does not include one single kitchen utensil, the absence of which is hard to understand. Documents also record that his son-in-law pointed some objects as being of his own property, not his father-in-law’s, and which were not seized. Thus, new questions rise: was there other tablewares that had been destroyed prior to the inventory?, were they not included in the inventory because they were owned by the daughter, the son-in-law or by third parties? We must recall that Church assets were not seized because they  were under Manuel Rodríguez’ protection. Twenty six days had elapsed since he was aprehended and the inventory initiated, and we ignore how long it took to write it down or if some other irregularities took place.

Needless to say, there is no documental evidence referred to an event of destruction, looting or similar activities in the place, not with Liniers and not at any other time. The silence of history does not mean that nothing happened, it means only that some events may not have not been recorded. There is a single isolated datum that could be related to an action of such nature, that says “in Rosas’ times, the federal troops assaulted and tried to burn the villa” (Cafferata 1954: 53); however, the author failed to present any documental reference to confirm his sayings. We may argue that this event –provided it really reflects reality- indicates a probable date between 1840 and 1852, while we keep in mind that not one object proved to be that late; for instance, not one molded bottle and not one Whiteware item from that timeframe have been found; also, there are no gin earthenware jugs or stoneware bottles for beer, all items that would have been a part of any household context at the time (Schávelzon 1991, 2002).

There is still an additional hypothesis (propossed by Carlos Page personal communication, 2001): the reaction of Liniers’ daughter. Her mother was already deceased, then her father was executed, she had no other children of her own and was forced to raise her sisters, sell the estate, as it was about to be seized, and return to Buenos Aires, where she initiated a campaign in order to retrieve her father’s remains which had been shipped to Spain. Perhaps she acted that way to seal off the sanitary system, leave the house invaded with disgusting odors, destroy everything she could not take back with her, and somehow revenge of the siege that so mamy misfortunes had caused.

The final interpretation

Finally, we may ask ourselves what do the objects say as an archaeological context. Evidently, the largest group found is the one that includes the Creamware and Pearlware chinas. Both are sets, not single pieces; even when the first is earlier and the second more modern, we are aware that in this country the use of them was more extended than in England, and that even they were coevally used (Scávelzon 2000); in both cases, the breakage pattern is identical: only large fragments were found and most of the time broken into two pieces only. As to the dishes of the Floreal Pearlware set, nine were restored –for an exhibition-; all of them were complete and all of them had broken into 10 to 25 fragments, while most were broken into 15 to 19 fragments. This is not final, but the tableware seems to have been altogether disposed of, in a single event, with dishes arranged one on top of the other and consequently broken with a similar pattern. When a dish breaks as a result of use and pieces are picked up to put them in the garbage, the smaller fragments are usually lost, and such is also the case with bottles; but now again they conform a chronologically homogeneous group of blown glass.In the event that they were disposed of at a later time, later materials should be present, even in a minimum amount.

We believe that the presence of local ceramics and objects manufactured or used by the Indian or Afro populations must come from the kitchen, as also some loose fragments of dirt thrown down to cover everything up and to definitely cancel the cesspools. Finally, assuming that the table service and the other objects were really disposed of when they still were in one piece, this may –and should- represent an answer in response to an extremely violent situation, as the value of each of such pieces, altogether and separately, was remarkable for the time and place. These objects were symbols of power and prestige not to be disdained; in a looting, these valuable objects would not have been left aside, nor would they have been discarded, for any reason. The normal thing to be expected is that they were redistributed and used for a much extended period of time. However and apparently, this time things did not turn out that way.

In short, our hypothesis is that the entire event is somehow connected with the execution of Liniers, with a probable event of violence that took place in the house, in a mediate or immediate way, or with a family reaction before the violent situations they were forced to endure, of which there are no documental records, or if they exist, they have not been found so far.

An accidental finding at the site: a potter’s workshop from the XVIIIth century

During the archaeological works carried out there by Marta Slavazza, excavation pits were opened under the floor of the so-called Room 8 in the ground floor. This is a large compound with an access through a door directly from the outside, whereas to gain the patio it is necessary to cross what in the past were the bathrooms. There, a cluster of materials was found in a very peculiar context, but the sudden interruption of the investigation prevented to draw conclusions. It should be pointed out that the excavation could not be completed in its lower levels, as the place was inadvertently destroyed (Slavazza 1971/4: 91). However, thanks to the excellent documents available, we are able today to re-study the discovery.

The floor in Room 8 was made of brick and was excavated in grids that revealed a sequence of layers with stones, bones, dirt and ceramic materials. The work system consisted in following the natural layers. The first grid yielded a total depth of 1.16 m from the ground level to the stone of the natural hill. But our attention was drawn by the second one, located in the northwestern corner: the sequence exposed a 17 cm layer of loose soil, and then the foundation of the adjacent wall, in a way that little space was left to excavate any further. There was evidence of posts and wood remains. Then, in level 3, an important amount of ceramics was found, together with large fragments of charcoal and burnt branches; below the 49 cm “three white boulders were found, nailed and grouped, and upright bricks fixed to the wall, with bone fragments of animals around and below, and among the boulders, important amounts of mica and egg shells” (Lister 1982). Under this probable hearth the soil was tightly consolidated and burnt and ended at a depth of 74 cm. Interestingly, this was found on the remains of an earlier wall and there were additional charcoal layers. Then it continues:

“… gradually, the amount of ceramics, bones, fibers, eggs, increases (…) and we observe the presence of three-sided pyramids of varied sizes, with enameled points, of which we have a huge amount of samples and whose function we ignore, as they do not seem to be fragmented in any of its two edges, they have no perforations, they were not used as an adornment”.

When the excavation reached 0.85 m in depth, it was inadvertently destroyed by a worker who used precisely that place to cross with wheelbarrows.

When revising all this, two important data come forth: the context information which points to a possible furnace and the massive presence of that which the researcher called “three-sided pyramids” and was unable to explain. We assume this was a pottery workshop, and that the unexplained objects were the typical crows’ feet of pottery hearths, used in Europe since the Middle Ages to our days. We shall later see that these are not the only ceramic objects found that reinforce this interpretation. As to the context, it might be possible that sometime prior to the radical transformations undertaken in the building that involved modifications in the walls, there was a hearth for firing pottery.

The revision of the materials found there indicate the existence of coarse ceramics for the most part, with the presence of painted and polished Red Monochrome Indian tradition pottery, glazed Carrascal from Mendoza, green, brown and black regional glazes, large jars, tiles, and smoothed ceramics. Besides, there is one Peruvian majolica from the XVIIIth century and sixteen fragments of Portuguese majolicas. The presence of XIXth century china and materials occurred only in the upper layer below the bricks.

The “pyramids”, in fact, are of two types: some are precisely that, small pyramid-like pieces used to separate the dishes placed into the furnace. The others are “crows’ feet”, like they are commonly known as a consequence of their peculiar appearence, and they may have three or four branches with the corresponding cones in the extremes (Slavazza 1971/4); the function is to leave only a tiny mark on the ceramic surface, possible to observe with the naked eye. It is typical of all furnaces, even the modern ones that still implement the traditional system from Spain. Thirty three cones and 21 crows’ feet were uncovered. In addition, a number of the latter, covered with melted and dripping glazes were found. Were the ones mentioned in the first place used to fire the piece and the second ones for the lead cover? It is very possible, but we cannot provide a final answer at this time. Glazes are brown in color. The context also shows fragments of green glazed ceramics with their covers burnt over an excess of heat: are they a part of pieces that were burnt and discarded on the spot? This is also possible, and these features are usually found among the common debitage of any historic ceramic furnace.

Finally, a number of mica pieces or piedra sapo were found, an extremely soft stone very much used for carving, and there was at least one carved fragment in the shape of a tied hand that we have interpreted as the arm of a cross. Was the workshop larger than we thought and sculptors also worked there? Again, this cannot be asserted right now, but it is at least probable.

From the perspective of historic documents, we have one single datum (Carlos Page, personal communication 2000), a reference by Father José Sánchez Labrador who lived there from 1734 to 1746:

“A potter from the city of Lucena, Andalucía, who worked in the hacienda known as Alta Gracia, found, while I was there, a vein of extremely fine clay with a beautiful color and flavor; he lathed original things with it, such as gourds, trays, mates, etc. More delicate than those coming from Chile. The vein was almost adyacent to the orchard’s fence that overlooks the Camino Real” (Furlong 1960: 21).

So far, it has not been possible to identify the name or any further reference of the potter. But it is worth noting that his presence is associated with abundant XVIIIth century majolica fragments imported from Portugal, and that these were the only majolicas in that context with the exception of one single Peruvian fragment.

Was this individual the one who built the furnace and produced ceramics in Alta Gracia? This is hard to know, inasmuch as the green glazed ceramics we still have in the region are but a few, very similar to those produced in the entire country during the XVIIIth and the XIXth century; brown glazes are still harder to identify, at least in the present state of our knowledge on historic ceramics in the region, and particularly because they were produced in many sites within the territory. However, there is a surprising piece of information: brown glazes seem to be consistent with what we call Utilitarian Glazes in Buenos Aires; and they are present in Alta Gracia and in this excavation in the shape of frying pans typical of the XIXth century.

This information concerning a possible ceramic furnace associated with a sculpture workshop is interesting, vis-à-vis the absolute absence of studies in this respect in Argentina.

Conclusions

What was the meaning of a Creamware and a Pearlware table set in Alta Gracia in the early XIXth century? Was it something normal or was it a rather peculiar thing to happen? It was certainly peculiar, as for what we have seen in Argentine archaeology, these wares become spread a bit later with the larger development of the internal market and the improvement in the circulation of luxury goods for the consume of the new bourgeoisie. At that time such a thing could be considered normal for people like Liniers and his family, who moved from one place to the other carrying all their luxury items with themselves.

But what about Buenos Aires? This is interesting: these wares were already common among wealthy families, and there was a market with an accelerated growth that bought these products and put aside the Spanish pottery. Local and regional ceramics were simply disdained and by that time they were already rare in the garbage pits from the city. In other words, the consume of luxury goods imported from England in the first place, and followed by France, was remarkable at the port –Buenos Aires- and not so common in the hinterland. These goods began to spread more like objects of social prestige than like the Revolution’s ideology, as they arrived much earlier. They represented as well new habits on how to take the meals and use the table, the cutlery and the dishes, associated with the new ideas of progress and change, though not necessarily of Revolution or Independence.

Acknowledgements

This work has been completed thanks to the initiative of Monica de Gorgas, Director, Alta Gracia Historic Museum. We are all in debt with Mr. Justo Torres, who succeeded in preserving the present collection. The entire team of the Museum has made my work possible, while the Sociedad de Amigos del Museum supported my travel and stay. My sincere thanks to Marta Slavazza, who excavated these objects and graciously allowed me to have them published, and to Carlos Page and Marta Bonofiglio for the information provided.

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