Part 7

At least one-half the rim sherds of fabric-impressed type have single cord-wrapped-stick impressions inside the lip. These impressions are placed, apparently with some care at right angles to the lip and may extend down into the vessel about 25 mm. Some specimens showed these impressions contiguous whereas more often a space as wide as the impression was left between successive marks. One rim, Figure 3, upper right, clearly showed that the lip had been impressed with a whole fabric and this fabric had been carried over the lip onto the interior in a few places at least. The interior warp direction was at right angles to the oblique elements on the outside, which is what would be expected had a piece of cloth been folded over the lip.

Cord marking also is now generally recognized as a surface finishing technique rather than a decoration. The probable method of application is that a flat piece of wood was heavily wrapped with cord and the resulting paddle was used to compact the vessel when in the moist stage. This paddling drove out air bubbles and excess water from the clay. There is little variation. Cords may be 4 mm. in diameter, or very fine (Figure 5). Certainly neither of these extremes is most common. Cords about 2 mm. in diameter are most numerous.

Generally cord-marking impressions seem haphazard in placement on the vessel. They overlap at all angles and bear no fixed direction to rim or base. Sometimes there is an obvious attempt to apply the cord markings at right angles to one another and oblique to the lip. Figure 5, upper right, has coarse angular quartz particles for grit temper that protrude through the surface of the sherd, perhaps through water wear.

FIGURE 5 (Page 76)

FIGURE 6 (Page 76)

(Page 77) No specimens were found that showed cord marking on the interior but tool marks were not uncommon. Most often the interior was merely smoothed. Not uncommonly the cord marking has been nearly obscured by after-treatment. Of course, some of this may be the result of water wear, but it is not difficult to detect the difference between wear and intentional smoothing over (Figure 8, lower left).

Net-impressed pottery seems to be one of the important time markers in the coastal area. It certainly is an interesting innovation and yet an expected outgrowth of fabric marking. All the remarks applying to fabric marking may be pertinent here. There are few clues that indicate the net is applied as a decorative surface finish.

There is some variety in the net but not much. Sherds in the bottom row of Figure 8 show the smaller mesh found in the collections but Figure 7 illustrates the general range of net impressions. The size of the knot seems to be constant in all, but mesh size ranges from about 5 mm. to about 12 mm. as a maximum. Most frequent is a mesh of 10 mm. Not infrequently the net was pressed onto the vessel more than once, but this crowding of the knot impressions can be readily discerned from plastic clay impressions. In fact, the clay impression must be constantly used in this study for so much wear is present. Fabric impressed, card marked, and net impressed are discernible in many examples only by examining clay molds.

Several specimens showed that net impressions are present for 25 to 50 mm. inside the rim and over the lip area. Always the net marks have been partially smoothed over. Many specimens show striations or tool marks on the inside of the sherds. Individual cord-wrapped-stick impressions do not occur but a specimen from a deep pit at A 12 (Figure 7, left middle), had smooth stick marks pressed along the inside of the rim so firmly as to scallop the lip area.

FIGURE 7 (Page 78)

FIGURE 8 (Page 78)

(Page 79) Simple stamping is another technique employed by aboriginals whereby the paste of a vessel is made more dense by malleating the surface. A wooden paddle into which parallel grooves have been cut leaving lands of a few millimeters wide, a paddle wrapped with smooth roots (?) or leather thongs, or perhaps other things, may be used. On the grit-tempered sherds, where simple stamping is a minority type, it is quite probably an incidental surface treatment just as cord marking (Figure 6).

In all examples of basal sherds it is seen that fabric impressing, cord marking, net impressing, and simple stamping cover the entire vessel. There are, of course, a few areas on a given vessel where after-smoothing has taken place, but in general it may be said that these surface treatments covered the entire exterior of the vessel.

Incising as a feature of the grit-tempered ware seems hardly worth mentioning, but a total of six such sherds were found. The incising is rather sketchy, poorly executed, and may be on the sand-tempered sherds more or less accidental. The sherd illustrated in Figure 8, upper row middle, is from A 1. It is clay-grit tempered. It is a good example of the careless treatment here called incising. However, it is important as a trade indicator.

In the footnotes in Table 1, there are several references to incising over fabric impressing. This is a crude incising, too. An example of the better sort is Figure 4. Sometimes very wide, deep grooves appear to have been rubbed rather than incised in the surface. All the examples of this broad-line incising are from site N 3. The sherd illustrated in Figure 8, right end middle row is incised. It is (Page 80) from C 4.

Incising plus punctating is seen in the middle row sherd of Figure 8. It is from P 19. Punctations have been zoned by three parallel incised lines. The sherd to the left of this specimen is fabric impressed with punctations applied in rows.


There is a great uniformity in vessel form in the grit-tempered ware. Of the several thousand sherds involved many hundreds were rim sherds, so that accurate dimensions were obtained from repeated observations.

The most common shape is that described as globular. That is, the body is longer in vertical dimension than in horizontal and the maximum diameter is near the middle of the vessel. The vessel is slightly constricted toward the mouth. The grit-tempered sherds suggest this vessel shape. A few exceptions are noted below. Diameters at the mouth, which would be only slightly less than the greatest body diameter, cluster about 400 mm. No whole vessels were found but a reasonable estimate of the height of these vessels would be in the ratio of about 4 to 3 to the diameter. The net-impressed vessels may have been as large as 500 mm. diameter and ranged down to about 250 mm. diameter.

Smaller vessels seem to retain the globular shape. Diameters less than 200 mm. were not found, except for a single specimen, fine sand tempered, fabric impressed, that measured 140 mm. Rims are not present on the majority of grit-tempered vessels. "Rim" usually means a distinctive area of the vessel between the body and the lip region. In these pots there is no such area, distinguished either by shape or decoration. One example of a thickened rim was found at site A 1 (Figure 8, upper right). A strip has been applied on the outside of the (Page 81) rim and welded into place by pinching the lower edge of the strip against the vessel wall leaving a row of large punctations. This is a simple-stamped sherd; the rim strip and even the lip area were stamped.

There is nothing unusual about the lip treatment, the lip being that area between the inner and outer surfaces of the vessel, marking the termination of the vessel wall. Generally it is flattened or squared, but rounded are common enough. In a few instances, it appears that the lip was flattened in a rather perfunctory manner so that an edge curled outward or inward. This gives an appearance as though the paste had "run" such as illustrated in Figure 5, upper left. However, in this specimen, which is cord marked, the cord markings are present on the lip area. In Figure 3, upper left, a sherd impressed with a very fine fabric has a pointed lip. The lip has then been nicked in a haphazard fashion. This was done after the fabric impressing, of course. The fabric impression is continued on the inside of this sherd.

All basal sherds found are hemispherical or slightly conical. Some demonstrate the coiling method of manufacture very well. Vessel thickness may be considered rather stable with 10 mm. a good average for body walls. Generally the walls taper down to 6 or 8 mm. near the lip but really thin specimens, that is, less than 5 mm., are absent. Basal sherds are always a bit thicker and may be as much as 20 mm.

No examples of handles or lugs or appendages of any sort were found. Holes drilled through pot walls were commonly found and were assumed to be lacing holes for crack repairs. None gave evidence that it might be for suspension.

The Shell-Tempered Ware

(Page 82) There is both uniformity and variation in the shell-tempered ware. The former are surface finish and shape whereas the latter are minor decorative techniques. On the whole, the uniformity far overshadows the variation and this ware presents a monotonous picture. Other than plain, there are two numerically important surface finishes, namely, fabric impressing and simple stamping. Cord marking is absent, a fact worthy of mention, for it serves to bolster the setting apart of shell tempering as a different ware.


The tempering material is crushed shell, probably oyster or clam or any of a number of laminated shells. The resulting aplastic is generally thin plates although angular fragments are present. Certainly there is no evidence that sizing was attempted. Within a single sherd the plates will vary in diameter from 5 mm. to less than 1 mm. In most instances it seems that the aplastic constitutes about 25 per cent or less of the volume of the paste. This is very neatly portrayed in some of the excessively leached sherds such as were found at Duck, B 5.

The method of manufacture, not so readily apparent as with the grit-tempered ware, is coiling. A few sherds have broken at such angles that moulding might seem indicated but far more specimens exhibit breakage along parallel lines and present other clues that suggest coiling. Figure 9, upper left, shows the rectangular sherd so characteristic of coiled pottery.

Texture is smooth or fairly fine. The sherds invariably show good compaction and have a smooth feel. The surface of the vessel also is smooth without protrusions of temper or lumpy appearances.

FIGURE 9 (Page 83)

FIGURE 10 (Page 83)

(Page 84) Hardness is about 2.5 to 3.0 with little variation from this. Color is generally some variation of gray, mouse gray being most common. An occasional sherd is brownish buff or vinaceous cinnamon, the firing carrying the color to a depth of about 1 mm. Rarely, the color is a dark brown or even wood brown on interior and exterior suggesting that the vessel was fired in a reducing atmosphere.

Copyright 2001
Carolina Algonkian Project