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Woodland Potters and Archaeological Ceramics of the North Carolina Coast

Written by Joseph M. Herbert

Publication Year: 2010

The first comprehensive study of the meaning of pottery as a social activity in coastal North Carolina.

Pottery types, composed of specific sets of attributes, have long been defined for various periods and areas of the Atlantic coast, but their relationships and meanings have not been explicitly examined. In exploring these relationships for the North Carolina coast, this work examines the manner in which pottery traits cross-cut taxonomic types, tests the proposition that communities of practice existed at several scales, and questions the fundamental notion of ceramic types as ethnic markers.

Ethnoarchaeological case studies provide a means of assessing the mechanics of how social structure and gender roles may have affected the transmission of pottery-making techniques and how socio-cultural boundaries are reflected in the distribution of ceramic traditions. Another very valuable source of information about past practices is replication experimentation, which provides a means of understanding the practical techniques that lie behind the observable traits, thereby improving our understanding of how certain techniques may have influenced the transmission of traits from one potter to another. Both methods are employed in this study to interpret the meaning of pottery as an indicator of social activity on the North Carolina coast.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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p. v

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-xii

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pp. xiii-xvi

Th is volume is an archaeological study of the ceramics of the Woodland cultures of the North Carolina coast and their relation to those of the greater Atlantic Coastal Plain. It is also an exploration of broader topics, for instance, how pottery traits...

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p. xvii

Th is study begins with a brief history of the Woodland era in Chapter 1, which is followed by a consideration of the methodological and theoretical concepts used to bridge the gap between ancient behaviors and modern artifacts (Chapter 2). The methods used in the analysis are presented in Chapter 3, and this is followed...

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1. Sketch of the Region’s Woodland History

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pp. 1-4

Th e inception of pottery making that marks the beginning of the Woodland era lies far back in time, perhaps two millennia before the Christian era and more than three millennia before the first Europeans were noting linguistic diff erences and recording the whereabouts of the coastal Indian tribes. As we move back in...

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2. Explaining Ceramic Patterns

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pp. 5-24

Any exposition of the behavioral and social causes lying behind the spatial and temporal patterning of pottery in a given region requires some explanation, and in this chapter I consider some of the issues involved....

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3. Techniques of Analysis

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pp. 25-38

Th e goals of this study are to refine the definitions of pottery types and synthesize regional taxonomies, augment the chronological data that allow us to understand the temporal relationships of the types, and determine the geographic distribution...

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4. Haag’s Excavation of Bandon, Cape Creek, and Whalen

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pp. 39-66

This chapter is concerned with three key sites, Bandon, Cape Creek, and Whalen, that are found on North Carolina’s northern Coastal Plain and are uniquely important in providing evidence for sequencing pottery types from stratified geomorphological...

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5. Recent Excavations at Papanow, Pond Trail, and Riegelwood

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pp. 67-96

Papanow (31NH690), Pond Trail (31NH465), and Riegelwood (31CB114) are sites that provide critical data for developing a Woodland ceramic sequence for the lower Cape Fear River valley. Papanow and Pond Trail are short- term habitation sites, in no way remarkable in terms of site structure, representative of the thousands...

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6. MacCord’s Excavation of McLean Mound and Recent Excavations in the Sandhills

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pp. 97-115

A unique feature of the North Carolina Sandhills and southern Coastal Plain is the presence of sand burial mounds found along the Upper Cape Fear and scattered across the lower Cape Fear and Neuse river valleys (Irwin et al. 1999; see their Figure 1). Woodland period burial mounds have not been found in the Piedmont...

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7. Ceramic Sequence for Eastern North Carolina

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pp. 116-146

Previous chapters have detailed information regarding the pottery types found at several key sites. In this chapter, that information is placed in the broader context of all published chronometric information for pottery from any site on the...

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8. The Spatial Distribution of Types

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pp. 147-188

Inasmuch as pottery series, types, and varieties correspond to sociocultural phenomena that occupy specific periods of time, they are also spatially patterned. It is relatively common for archaeologists to use ethnohistoric information about the geographic arrangement of linguistic or ethnic groups to interpret the spatial distribution...

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9. Ceramic Boundaries and Social Spaces

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pp. 189-199

The foregoing chapters have assessed the temporal and spatial patterning of coastal North Carolina pottery types using key sites and collections. Little has been said, however, concerning the context in which the pots were actually made and used....

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10. Conclusion

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pp. 200-206

Technological styles of material culture are the language of practice, shaped by shared understandings of what is eff ective, or proper, or pleasing, formed in the context of family and peers, kin groups, and community networks of every description. Understanding the linkage between archaeological patterns of material...

References Cited

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pp. 207-226


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pp. 227-235

E-ISBN-13: 9780817381196
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817355173

Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 680619870
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Woodland Potters and Archaeological Ceramics of the North Carolina Coast

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • North Carolina -- Antiquities.
  • Atlantic Coast (N.C.) -- Antiquities.
  • Social archaeology -- North Carolina -- Atlantic Coast.
  • Indian pottery -- North Carolina -- Atlantic Coast.
  • Pottery craft -- North Carolina -- Atlantic Coast -- History.
  • Woodland culture -- North Carolina -- Atlantic Coast.
  • Indians of North America -- North Carolina -- Atlantic Coast -- Antiquities.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- North Carolina -- Atlantic Coast.
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