Friday, September 25, 2009
Anne and I are currently in the process of pulling and analyzing all of the lithics and Aboriginal pottery excavated from units during the 2009 Field Session. Once we have completed this task we will be better able to interpret the Native American component at Port Tobacco and report our findings. An important part of this activity is identifying Aboriginal pottery as different types of wares correlate with different time periods. So, what better time than now to begin reviewing the common types of pottery we encounter and how we identify them!
The type I will focus on today is called Moyaone. As we have previously written blogs on this type you may be familiar with its characteristics. This pottery consists of a very fine paste and smooth surfaces with fine sand, finely crushed quartz, and mica used to temper the clay. The dead giveaway that a piece you are examining is Moyaone is the presence of small grains of mica that sparkle in the light. This particular piece is quite nicely cord-decorated, and also happens to be a rim. It was found in Stratum 1 of Unit 60 in the Compton Field. This is a fairly recent pottery type, dating to the Late Woodland period between AD 1300-1650. Vessels made of Moyaone are generally medium to small in size.
The methods we use to identify pieces of Aboriginal pottery are fairly basic, but require lots and lots of practice. One important aspect to examine is the surfaces of the sherd--are they smooth, grainy, decorated, plain...? Another area to analyze is the temper, which breaks down into five main categories--sand, steatite, crushed quartz, gravel, and shell. Different types of Aboriginal wares have different percentages of these materials in the clay. There are additional techniques that also assist in identification, such as the size, thickness, and shape of the sherd, as well as any markings on the interior and exterior of the vessel that indicate how it was formed.
Stay tuned for more postings about Aboriginal pottery!