Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fine Pottery from an Ordinary Pit

Over the course of our five week field season, we have found pottery of varying quality. In general, the Early Woodland ceramics from the region are the most coarsely made, as exemplified by the Leimbach series pottery recovered from the oval enclosure ditch and several pits. The net-impressed sherd discussed in an earlier post is a notable exception to this general trend. Another surprising discovery is the collection of pot sherds recovered from Feature 10-16, a large, but not very distinctive pit feature found during week four. Unlike most other features, the pottery in Feature 10-16 was concentrated into two clusters. These can be seen near the bottom of the pit in the cross-section image shown below. These sherds were very fragile when uncovered and could not be examined closely in the field. Once I had time to inspect

the sherds, I discovered several fragments of the rim and body sections of a medium-sized vessel. The rim sherds exhibited a surface treatment of very fine cord-impressions oriented vertically to the lip of the pot. These impressions were most likely made by the application of a wooden implement wrapped in some of the finest cordage I have ever seen impressed on a Woodland vessel. This cord-wrapped paddle would have been applied when the pot was still wet, prior to firing. The closeup of a rim and neck segment shown below reveals the great expertise of the Native American potter who made this fine vessel. If you look closely, you will note that the parallel cord impressions change orientation on the lower neck (just left of the nickel) from

vertical to horizontal. This is a rather common convention on Middle and early Late Woodland pottery of the region. Also found in this pit was a Flint Ridge bladelet fragment which suggests that this vessel was made during the Middle Woodland period, although we cannot be sure unless we run a radiocarbon date on charcoal from the pit. We have additional fragments of this pot now being cleaned in the lab. Hopefully we will be able to reconstruct enough of this vessel to reveal the overall shape and size of the pot and thereby determine is function and period of origin.