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The graph can be read as follows: in the 1650 – 1680 time range (second from the bottom), Harrington found that 57% of the holes were 7/64ths of an inch wide, another 25% were 8/64ths of an inch wide, and the remaining 18% were 6/64ths of an inch wide. Were the average bore hole size of a cluster of fragments from an undated site to fall somewhere within these sizes, it was a good bet the site was probably from the 1650 – 1680 time period.

The X-axis presents the range of bore hole measurements in increments of 64ths of an inch. (These formulas regarding bore hole diameters apply principally to English clay pipes, not Dutch pipes, whose bore hole diameters are more variable. Distinguishing between these white clay pipes isn’t always easy, though Dutch pipes are reportedly much softer than English pipes – my fragment is quite hard.) The possible 17th century dates for this fragment square quite nicely with what I know about the history of the particular preserve where I found the stem. Not too shabby given how limited my field of vision was.I was compelled for much of this outing to keep my eyes focused on the ground (lifting them only when someone else spotted a bird), but, as an instance of how contingent life is, at one point I spied a small, off-white object pressed into the trail.

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