Monthly Archives: November 2021

First SciCoMove secondments to La Plata (November-December 2021)

Nathalie Richard (Le Mans University), and Silvano Montaldo (Lombroso Museum, University of Turin) are now in La Plata.

Cast Skeleton of Diplodocus Carnegii, Museo De La Plata, Argentina (photograph by S. Montaldo).

Silvano Montaldo is working, with the help of the anthropology and Museum Archive teams at La Plata, on the circulation of Cesare Lombroso’s ideas on physical anthropology and criminology in Argentina (case study). He discovered some interesting archives in the La Plata Police Museum. This museum keeps the archives of Juan Vucetich, who devised a system of fingerprint identification in the 1890’s, and was in contact with Lombroso.

Nathalie Richard is working with the La Plata Museum team and the team at the Museum Archive, on communication and dissemination. She helps planning the training session on “archives and collections”, designed for PhD students (July 4-8 2022). Together with the La Plata teams, she is selecting interesting specimens and archive files, attesting to the circulation of collections between Europe and Argentina, which could be included in the mooc and the digital exhibition.

Sweating pots

By Irina Podgorny, CONICET/Archivo Histórico del Museo de La Plata, Argentina

This story begins in a warehouse of the FAMILLE Association, SOLIDARITÉ ET CULTURES located on the Boulevard de la Liberación in the city of Marseille. Or a little earlier, it is true, on a morning of torrential rain, impossible for a walk without a raincoat or protection of any kind, on a pause on that excursion that went in the direction of the Natural History Museum of the city. A journey – it was not known yet – marked by the administration of water.

Glazed container with the handle and the two holes in the upper section; the mouth to carry and the python – smaller – to drink. Photography: Adela Schäffner.

The Natural History Museum is located in the north wing of the magnificent Longchamps Palace, the twin wing of the one where, opposite, is the Museum of Fine Arts. It is a mansion that was inaugurated in 1869 to celebrate the end of the problems derived from the drought that devastated this Provençal port. Thanks to an engineering work that made it possible to transport the water from the Durance River to the homes of the people of Marseille, after more than 30 years of work, a complex network made up of 85 kilometers of channels and underground pipes managed to supply water to this city, where the sea ​​reigns but drinking water is lacking. For this reason, to commemorate this milestone, it was decided to build the Longchamps Palace at the end of the avenue of the same name in the upper reaches of the Les Cinq Avenues neighborhood. It was commissioned by the architect Henri-Jacques Espérandieu (1829 – 1874) who designed it as a true ode to water, as reflected in the allegorical sculptures of fertility and abundance. This Baroque-inspired complex is made up of a majestic colonnade and a central fountain known as the Chateau d’eau or Water Castle. The fountain depicts a cart drawn by bulls that carries grapes and wheat and above it three female figures stand, a symbol of life, with falls and waterfalls whose noise made the rain of that day sound more terrible than it really was. Although by then, it did not matter much either: in Liberación, the solidarity association sold umbrellas for a couple of coins and, for the same price, a little further inside, you could get toys, clothes, antiques, books, pots and glassware. There were also many shelves full of ceramics, earthenware and porcelain of all kinds, colors and tastes, one of the many human perditions, a sign of sedentary life and a declared enemy of suitcases and air travel. Among the tidal wave of objects given to charity and awaiting their new owners, a jug stood out, a cylindrical vase, with a glazed finish, marbled in shades of creams and browns. Probably Provençal, apparently a bit old. With that vintage consisting of an umbrella and a jug under our arms, we returned to Cassis.

“What is this called in English?” – the English-speaking colleagues from the Camargo Foundation asked the next day. “Botijo” – answered the Wikipedia version in that language, confirming the Spanish origin of the object. (1) But, nevertheless, to the Francophones he said something else: “gargoulette”, a name that ratified, instead, its Mediterranean and Provençal stamp. The encyclopedia also called them cachucho, piporro, pirulo, peche and rallo, forgetting about “glass and ceramic”, a word that is now in disuse and invented in 1809 by Jean Fourmy, a potter from Paris. A word that is linked to the studies and experiments carried out in the early nineteenth century where the physics and chemistry of materials were combined with the large-scale production of earthenware and the possibility of mastering the technologies that guaranteed the cooling of liquids.

“YDROCÉRAME”, Fourmy’s neologism, was composed of two words of Greek origin: “Ydros” which referred to sweat, and keramos, to clay pots. This designated the family of glasses that sweated and any container of earth whose permeability enabled it to cool its contents thanks to the property of cooling by means of the transudation mechanism.

When the mineralogist and chemist Alexandre Brongniart (1770-1847) in 1844 published his Traité des arts céramiques ou Des poteries considérées dans leur histoire, leur pratique et leur théorie, he took up Fourmy’s classification but added an H and an explanation reminiscent of the distribution of plants according to the climatic zones of the globe: a Hydrocerame was a type of ceramic that could be found in climates where the lowest temperature oscillated by an average of 15 degrees but also where it could rise well beyond 30. This type of glasses had the property of lowering the temperature of the liquids stored there to about 8 degrees with respect to the environment. The name given by Fourmy served, as in geology and mineralogy, to summarize in a single word all the regional names and, in this way, show that it was a technology shared by different regions dominated by the same problem. From India to Andalusia, passing through Egypt and the torrid area of ​​the American continent, with details in the manufacture that marked its origin, all, however, shared one characteristic: they presented a large surface that favored rapid evaporation that cooled the water while avoiding to go to the gaseous state. The secret: the porosity of the paste, achieved by the addition of fine sand, fired ceramics, clay loams, low-temperature firing, the incorporation of substances later destroyed by firing. Among them, the salt that, when dissolved, left the paste full of small vesicles. The forms were as varied as the names used in the most distant geographies; singular in more than one case but always respecting the principle of extending the surface to achieve rapid evaporation of the water.

Spanish botijo. In Description méthodique du Musée Cerámique de la Manufacture Royale de Porcelaine de Sèvres. Pair MM. A. Brongniart et D. Riocreux. Paris. 1845. Pl. XXII, Fig. 2.

One of the first to break down the manufacture of these vessels had been the citizen Louis Lasteyrie who in 1797 published a memoir on the Spanish alcarrazas in the Journal des Mines, previously read in the French Philomatic Society. It was about those vessels that were manufactured in various regions of the neighboring country, mostly characterized by their grayish bank. Madrid supplied itself with them in Anduxar, Andalusia, a town that obtained the land to model them in the Tamasuro stream. According to Lasteyrie, it was a form imported by the Arabs and was still used in Egypt and other parts of Africa and Asia, the East Indies, Syria, Persia, China. On the other hand, they were unknown in Sicily and also in France. Lasteyre said:

“Despite the neighborhood and relations with Spain, no traveler has so far been in charge of spreading the procedures used in its manufacture of this element, the introduction of which would be extremely useful for our country, not only to cool off in hot weather but also for a health issue”.

As a result, Lasteyrie had been informed about the exact way used to make the alcazarras (2), he had also brought a few to exhibit them to his compatriots together with the samples of the land used, examples that Citizen Darcet analyzed chemically . As a result, it was found that the materials existed on French soil and that producing them would not be onerous.

Lasteyrie was not the only one to propose the import into France of the cooling methods used in other Mediterranean countries. The historian of science Patrice Bret, one of the scholars of Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt (1798-1801), has shown that one of the technologies most observed by the French in that territory was precisely the one that allowed the locals to maintain fresh water in a climate as overwhelming as that of the African desert thanks to its storage in “bardaks” or “qollehs”. In Egypt, the mathematician and geometer Louis Costaz (1767-1842) devoted himself to studying its thermal characteristics, which he later presented in Paris in a debate at the Society for the promotion of national industry created in 1801. For his part, Pierre Rouyer ( 1769-1831), the expedition’s chief pharmacist, published a historical and chemical study of Egyptian ceramic arts highlighting “the advantages that the adoption of ceramics destined to cool water would bring for France”. Shortly after, in 1802, a naturalist would once again exhibit a Spanish alcazarra and an Egyptian bardaca for analysis by Parisian scientists. It would be in this context that Fourmy would invent the name “ydroceramics” to bring together all known forms of refrigerant glasses, launching into the manufacture of them.

Brongniart, meanwhile, with an applied geologist’s eye, dedicated himself to promoting the creation of the ceramic museum of the Sèvres porcelain factory by publishing his catalog in 1845 that included various shapes of sweating vessels from, in this case, Spain. Portugal and Egypt.

At the end of the 19th century the gargoulette was already part of the material culture of Provence, and although some claim it from local roots, this story that began on a rainy day seems to indicate that its spread coincides with the period of the great works of hydraulic engineering held by the Palais de Longchamps. Those that brought water to the houses of Marseille.


1. Botijo: Porous clay pot used to hold water and drink from it. It has a handle at the top and has a mouth where it fills on one side and a drinking spout on the other side. The glazed jug, also called winter jug, is used today preferably as an object of decoration. (We have respected the words in italics as they were in the original) In Alfares y alfareros de España. By José Guerrero Martín. Ediciones del Serbal, Madrid, 1988, p. 279.

2. Alcazarra: Porous clay pot that, thanks to the evaporation of the water that seeps, cools the one that remains inside. José Guerrero Martín: ob. cit. 1988, p. 277.

Circulation of algae in exsiccatae: James Lloyd’s collections

By Louise Couëffé, University of Angers

James Lloyd was an amateur botanist author of local floras in western France. He gathered an important herbarium from 1838 to 1895 and was in correspondence with several important botanists of this period, such as François Crépin (1830–1903).

James Lloyd, 1865. Gadeceau, “Notice sur les travaux et la vie de James Lloyd » in Annales de la Société académique de Nantes et du département de la Loire-Inférieure, vol. 7 sér.7, Nantes, Mellinet, 1896, p. 205.

James Lloyd was born in England in 1811. When he was six years old, he left England to live in France, in Thouaré near Nantes, where James’s mother, Elisa Lake, married M. Ranson. Very interested in music and horticulture, he begun to study botany on his own in Nantes in 1835, using De Candolle’s flora.

In 1844, on the basis of his herbaria and the plants sent by many amateurs of botany, he published a local flora (Flore de la Loire-Inférieure). In 1854, this flora was extended to western France with the Flore de l’Ouest de la France.

James Lloyd was very interested in algae. His library contained several books on algae, published by European specialists between 1818 and 1850. He probably collected his first algae with his stepfather, M. Ranson. He collected algae for exsiccatae.

Exsiccatae were part of the process of the commodification of sciences. They enabled botanists to gather plants from all over the world without travelling and to access types confirmed by specialists without going to national museums. Exsiccatae were a specific type of collection created at the end of the 18th century to increase the circulation of types of botanical specimens.

The exsiccata is a specific genre of scientific output between the herbaria and the book. It would be edited by a botanist who produced several identical herbaria, containing the same set of species. They were considered scientific references because plants’ names were confirmed by well-known botanists or because they contained descriptions and types of new species. Unlike books or scientific illustrations, exsiccatae contained real plants, presenting both the characteristics of the species and the idiosyncratic particularities of the specimen. They enabled more precise observations and comparisons. Below each plant, a printed label indicated the title of the collection and its author’s name, the name of the species, it’s author, and sometimes the place and date of collecting.

Muséum de sciences naturelles d’Angers. Fonds James Lloyd – Algues de l’Ouest de la France, n°209 – Gloiosiphonia capillaris Glam

James Lloyd contributed to the exsiccata Algues marines du Finistère edited in 1852 by two brothers, Pierre-Louis (1798–1871) and Hippolyte-Marie (1802–1871) Crouan, pharmacists from Brest. This exsiccata was published in 50 exemplars and contained 404 species of algae. Some of its content was collected by James Lloyd, who was at the same time making his own exsiccata, Algues de l’Ouest de la France, began in 1847.

This collection was composed of twenty-four volumes of herbaria and made on subscription: buyers had to pay before receiving it, partly to finance James Lloyd travels to gather algae. He collected 83 percent of the specimens published in this collection. Fourteen collectors took part in the project. Some of them were specialists of algae, such as Gustave Thuret and Edouard Bornet; others were amateurs or Lloyd’s friends.

Specimens were carefully collected: they had to be similar, collected at the same phase of development (flowers, fruits, etc.), with visible organs. To make the various exemplars of the exsiccatae, collectors had to pick up many specimens of the same species (sometimes 50, sometimes several hundreds). This was a problem for rare species: some of them were collected in different places in order to get enough specimens without damaging or threatening the presence of the species in the localities. It was the case for the Nytophyllim punctatum var. ocellatum collected in Belle-Ile and le Croisic, even if the number of specimens from le Croisic were finally sufficient.

This exsiccata was published in few exemplars, from 1847 to 1894. Some of them were bought by local amateurs (Bourgault-Ducoudray, Mme Mosneron du Pin, etc.); others were acquired by well-known botanists, such as Gustave Thuret. One teacher of botany at the University of Uppsala, Johan Erhard Areschoug (1811–1887), asked James Lloyd to send him an exemplar of the exsiccata, but no exemplar is conserved in Uppsala now. Nowadays, some of them are conserved at Harvard, Oxford, Paris, Autun, Nancy, and Montpellier. Those collections increased the circulation of specimens collected by amateurs.


DAYRAT B., Les botanistes et la flore de France, trois siècles de découvertes, Paris, Publications scientifiques du Muséum, 2003, pp. 407–416.

DIXON P.S., “Notes on important algal herbaria”, British Phycological Bulletin, 3(2), 1967, pp. 213–218.

LAMY D., « Le savoir botanique par les herbiers », Colloque « Voyages en botanique », 16 et 17 juin 2005, Besançon, en ligne sur, pp. 1–13.

LAMY D., « Les herbiers de plantes cryptogames : méthodes, emplois, perspectives » in PIERREL R. et J.-P. REDURON (ed), Les herbiers : un outil d’avenir. Tradition et modernité, Actes du colloque de Lyon, 20–22 novembre 2002, Villers-lès-Nancy, 2004, pp. 30–39.

ROUILLARD T., BAZAN S., et COUEFFE L., « L’exsiccata des Algues de l’Ouest de la France du botaniste nantais James Lloyd », Bulletin de la Société d’éetudes scientifiques de l’Anjou, 2019, pp. 153–181.

STAFLEU F. A. and R. S. COWAN, 1976-1988 Taxonomic literature: A selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates, commentaries and types, vol. III Lh-O, Utrecht, Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema, 1981, pp. 127–128.

STAFLEU F. A. and R. S. COWAN, 1976-1988 Taxonomic literature: A selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates, commentaries and types, vol. I A-G, Utrecht, Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema,1976, pp. 569–570.

New publications by the University of Bonn team

Find the latest publications by our researchers from the University of Bonn:

Hans Peter Hahn / Oliver Lueb / Katja Müller / Karoline Noack (Hg.), Digitalisierung ethnologischer Sammlungen. Perspektiven aus Theorie und Praxis, Bielefeld 2021: transcript


From “Bronze Rooster” to Ekeko ─ Impulses toward Ethnological Provenance Research in University Collections and Museums (Open Access, 2020).


Global Turns, descolonización y museos. Carla Jaimes Betancourt, Karoline Noack und Naomi Rattunde (Hgg.) La Paz: BASS y plural, 2020.