Artifacts from the two prehistoric components of the Tillett site fall within four classes based on the material from which they were manufactured. These are ceramics, lithics, bone and shell; of the four, ceramic specimens are in the large majority, followed by lithic, bone and shell artifacts. Within each class are varying numbers of functional types; ceramic types include vessels and smoking pipes; lithic types present are projectile points and preforms, bifaces, (Page 40) drill, abraders, grinding stone, polished stone fragments, hammerstones and raw material and residue associated with lithic production processes; bone artifacts are represented by awls and the fragment of a possible ideological artifact; and the shell class includes a fragment of a net weight or hoe, a ladle and a fragment of unknown function.

Ceramic sherds are nearly equally divided between the Mount Pleasant and Colington components, but most of the other artifact types belong to the Colington component.

The total number of artifacts and the activities they represent is not large when compared with sedentary mainland sites, and is probably reasonable for a seasonal site.


Two ceramic series or ware groups constitute the majority at the site; these are the Mount Pleasant series and the Colington series, each a marker trait in its corresponding component. In addition, minor quantities of the Hanover series and Mockley ware associated with the Mount Pleasant component are represented in the collection.

Mount Pleasant Series

This series, from which the Mount Pleasant phase takes its name, has been generally described and dated to the latter half of the middle Woodland period, although it is generally presumed to exist earlier as well. The Mount Pleasant series sample from the Tillett site numbers 784 sherds of which 200 were residual, or smaller than two centimeters and not classified by type. Types in the series from the site are described below in an abbreviated descriptive form.

Mount Pleasant Fabric Impressed (Sample = 419 Sherds)

Mount Pleasant Net Impressed (Sample = 28 Sherds)

Figure 13. Mount Pleasant, Mockley and Hanover ceramics. Mount Pleasant cord marked (a-b), fabric impressed (c-d), net impressed (e) and incised (f); Mockley net impressed (g); and Hanover cord marked (h) and fabric impressed (i). All actual size. (Page 43)

Mount Pleasant Card Marked (Sample = 126 Sherds)

(Ware characteristics, range and chronological position same as Mount Pleasant fabric impressed.)

Mount Pleasant Incised (Sample = 1 Sherd)

Mount Pleasant Plain (Sample = 10 Sherds)

Colington Series

The Colington series is the Late Woodland period Colington phase ceramic manifestation in the Tidewater subregion of the North Coastal region. The Tillett site sample of 727 sherds includes about 200 which were smaller than two centimeters and not classified by type. (Page 44)

Figure 14. Colington ceramic types. Colington fabric impressed rims (a-d); incised and punctated (e-f) and cord-wrapped dowel (g) over fabric impressed surfaces; rim interior with chevron-shaped cord-wrapped dowel impressed (h); Colington plain (i); and Colington simple stamped (j). All actual size. (Page 45)

Figure 15. Ceramic rim and lip forms (all interiors to right; actual size). (Page 46)

Colington Fabric Impressed (Sample = 482)

Figure 16. Colington Plain rim sherds. Notice the shallow notches on the lip(c) and the punctation formed by a periwinkle shell (d). All actual size.

Colington Simple Stamped (Sample = 3)

Colington Plain (Sample = 42 Sherds)

Other Series

The Tillett site ceramic collection includes two other series which were contemporary with the Mount Pleasant component. The Hanover series (South 1976:16) is represented by seven cord marked and three fabric impressed sherds (Figure 13h-i). Minor amounts of this clay tempered ware are usually found in Mount Pleasant coastal sites, which may explain the occasional Mount Pleasant practice of including clay lumps with the normal sand and pebble temper. Fourteen sherds of Mockley net impressed were also found on the site. This Middle Woodland shell tempered ware is more frequent in Tidewater Virginia, where it is dated between A.D. 400-800 (Stephenson and Ferguson 1963:103-109). So far, Mockley ware has been found in very small quantities on sites in the northern coastal area, but future research may show that this ware is the stimulus for popularity and development of the succeeding Colington series.

Ceramic Seriation

Figure 17 presents the seriation of ceramics from three control squares (-42L2, -42L6, -56R2) selected because they had less disturbance than other units, and all had a Zone II midden depth of 40 centimeters. The total sherd count (100% sample) for each level was: level 1 - 87, level 2 - 214, level 3 - 327 and level 4 - 87. Level 1 in these squares was somewhat disturbed by grading which occasionally penetrated into level 2.

The chart confirms the temporal sequence with Mount Pleasant preceding Colington as has been the case elsewhere, and which is borne out by the available radiocarbon dates for the two series. The seriation also suggests that the fabric impressed types were the "workhorses" of both series, while other types have a minor representation. Both Hanover and Mockley occurred in too low a frequency to overcome the mechanical mixing of the midden and sort into their proper temporal position.

More important, the seriation shows that the lowest level of the midden was primarily deposited during the Mount Pleasant component, and the Colington occupation began sometime during the deposition of level 3. Although mechanical mixing on each occupational level has certainly played a roll, the general stratigraphic relationship of the two midden components is clearly illustrated. The radiocarbon dates (Page 49) for the two components also fit well with the chart. Feature 6 intruded from the bottom of midden level 2 and dated the beginning of the Colington component around A.D. 860. Pit 1 with its date of ca. A.D. 460 intruded into the sterile sand from the bottom of the midden and dates the beginning of the Mount Pleasant component.

Figure 17. Ceramic seriation in control squares -42L2, -42L6 and -56R2. (Page 50)

Ceramic Smoking Pipes

Two fragmentary smoking pipes were reclaimed from the excavations. One of these, found in the disturbed upper midden level of square -56R2, is a flattened stem fragment which tapers toward the rounded mouthpiece end (Figure 20h). It has a remaining maximum length of 41 millimeters, is 21 millimeters across its greatest remaining width and has a maximum thickness of 7 millimeters. The stem hole is an irregular, flattened oval in cross-section with a width of 5 millimeters. At first appearance, the specimen gives the impression of a "monitor" type of pipe, but the evidence of the flattened stem hole and the presence of a midline concavity along the top of the stem suggest that the stem of this pipe collapsed in the production process, either during the drying stage or early in the firing. Apparently the flattened stem did not prevent its use (the stem hole is open), and it was eventually discarded after breaking. The exterior finish is smooth, shows a few scraping marks from the finishing process, and is reddish-tan in color, possibly from application of a clay slip. The paste incorporates a temper of fine sand and small flakes of mica, the latter suggesting that it was produced at a site in an inner estuarine locality where micaceous sands are available.

The other specimen is a stem fragment with an elliptical cross-section broken at the point of joining with the bowl (Figure 20i) . The angle of attachment (bowl-to-stem) is obtuse and sharply delineated in a way characteristic of Colington phase pipes. The temper is fine to medium sand and the surface is smooth with a dull red color, possibly a slip, where it is still intact. Stem cross-section dimensions are 22 millimeters (the long axis of the ellipse) by 15 millimeters with a round stem hole diameter of 7 millimeters. The specimen was found in the Colington component midden of square -42. (Page 51)

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Carolina Algonkian Project, All Rights Reserved