Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Reconstructing the Late Woodland Vessel

Back on July 5 of last year I reported the discovery of a Late Woodland pot in a small pit in the south area of our Heckelman site excavations.  In the late fall, much time was spent by Meghan M. and Jaime G. on the reconstruction.  Examining the sherds from this vessel in the field told us it belonged to the early Late Woodland, Green Creek phase of north-central Ohio.  This ID was based primarily on the very thin vessel walls and fine cordmarking on the exterior.  Several pots of similar form were found during the 2011 season in pits within Structure 2.  

After many hours of work, we realized that only part of the vessel was preserved.  I believe that the entire pot was deposited in a small pit--most likely within another house--some 1,400 years ago, but the effects of weathering left most of the vessel badly fractured and unable to be reconstructed.  Much of the rim was also missing, most likely due to plowing.   This image shows the vessel in all its crushed splendor.


Persistent effort--and much masking tape--resulted in the reconstruction seen here.

The close-up below reveals the finely cordmarked surface, which was likely done with a cord-wrapped wooden paddle.  Note that the orientation of the cordmarks changes from vertical near the rim (upper portion) to oblique and overlapping on the body.  This form of surface treatment is typical of Middle to early Late Woodland pottery in southern Ohio and beyond.  It is more rare in northern Ohio but does reveal connections between Woodland peoples at Heckelman and middle Ohio Valley groups to the south. 

The lack of heavy carbon smudging from use in a fire suggests that this was not a cooking pot.  Its thin walls tell me that it may have instead been used for dry storage.

Finally, I used a bit of digital manipulation to project the reconstructed vessel profile onto the remains of the Late Woodland pot.  The result shown below exhibits the typical form of early Late Woodland vessels such as Newtown Cordmarked or Childers Cordmarked found in the middle Ohio River Valley.   Again, revealing clear stylistic connections with societies farther south, not only during the Hopewell era, but also during the subsequent early Late Woodland period.

No comments: