Thursday, October 8, 2009

That's a Rap...pahannock!

Since I am certain that you all missed my aboriginal pottery review (no groans please), I have decided to discuss one more pottery type frequently found at Port Tobacco. Rappahannock wares, which are typically classified under Townsend wares, is one of the most recent aboriginal pottery types we come across. These vessels date from the Late Woodland Period into the Early Contact Period, from roughly AD950- AD1600. While this type of pottery has been mentioned before, a little bit more detail never hurts, right?

Rappahannock pottery is characterized a compact paste and is made from a fine clay. In some cases the clay is micacious; a variation likely due to differences in clays found in different locations. In the image to the left the sherd on the bottom was made from micacious clay, while the one on the top was not. Both of these sherds came from Stratum 2 of Unit 52. Shell is used as the temper, though these wares are much less porous and more refined than the earlier Mockley wares, which also have a shell temper. Actually, as I worked to identify each sherd of aboriginal pottery from the Compton field I noticed that many Rappahannock sherds resembled Moyaone sherds, except the former was tempered with shell while the latter is tempered with sand. In some cases, however, there are pieces of crushed quartz or sand as well as shell included in the paste of Rappahannock vessels.

Numerous styles of decoration are found on Rappahannock wares, including fabric-impressions, cord-impressions, punctations, incised lines or designs, and various other embellishments. The sherd to the right, also from Stratum 2 of Unit 52, is cord-impressed though this decoration is difficult to see. Please click on both images and the links for a better view.

These wares have been found across a large region, encompassing parts of Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware.

If you are familiar with other common types of aboriginal pottery types found in Maryland you may be wondering why I never discussed Potomac Creek Pottery. Well, it seems that Pete beat me to it...about a year ago. So, for some brief points concerning the identification of Potomac Creek wares take a look at his blog here. Also, feel free to revisit last week's blog on decorated wares for some other examples of Potomac Creek sherds.

Also, I took a look at the weather forecast for Port Tobacco next week. The weather for most of the week has been predicted to be sunny and brisk, so we will be accepting no lame weather excuses for not joining us down there for a bit of digging next week!


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