Prehistory of West Virginia - Ceramic Industry

Ceramic Industry

Bowls of steatite, such as those found as Burning Spring Branch Site (46KA142), were gradually replaced by sandstone, which were eventually replaced by ceramic bowls. Ceramics were introduced to Fayette Thick ceramics at Coco Station (46Ka294); preliminary examination suggests the deposits date primarily from 1200 to 800/700 BCE.

The earliest ceramics of the region's Woodland Culture is called the Half-Moon Ware. Studies at Winfield Locks Site (46PU4) suggest that the Half-Moon Cordmarked variant is a new provisional Early Woodland (1500-400 BC) ceramic series (Niquette and all). Jonathan P. Kerr writes, "Traditionally, archeologists distinguish the Woodland period from the preceding Archaic by the appearance of cord-marked or fabric-marked pottery, the construction of burial mounds and other earthworks and the rudimentary practice of agriculture (Willey 1966:267)."

Johnson Plain and Levissa Cordmarked are Early Middle Woodland ware from the Adena Phase of the Scioto Tradition in Ohio. These are similar to Peters ceramics and considered to be ancestors of the Middle Woodland wares of the Scioto Tradition from certain Ohio Adena sites. Two variants of the Adena ceramics in the Ohio Valley are the Fayette Thick and Adena Plain.

Watson pottery appears during the end of the Middle Woodland period, 100–800 CE. Exterior surface finishes, towards the eastern area, are either cord-marked or plain, and are rarely incised. It is often more a smoothed surface. This type of ceramic post-dates Classic Adena occupations on the upper Ohio River Valley. Watson immediately precedes the Page ceramic components in West Virginia. Watson ceramics are also found on the upper reaches of the Potomac River Valley in westernmost Maryland, West Virginia, ranging to eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, also over a large area in the upper Ohio River Valley.

Mahoning Plain and Cordmarked Pottery type description includes three main types that date to the Middle-Late Woodland: Mahoning cordmarked, Mahoning plain, and Mahoning incised. A coil method, using crushed igneous rock (e.g., granite) or quartz) temper are called Monongahela cordmarked and Mahoning incised. Mahoning incised is more common in the Ohio Valley. Mahoning cordmarked decoration was crafted on the lip area. It may also be notched or impressed. A few sherds have shown evidence of fabric impressions. The rim is slightly flared and sometimes found folded. Decoration is confined along the rim to the necks . Mahoning ware "seems to occur on sites which are Middle Woodland or Hopewellian".

Armstrong (1–500 CE) has leading characteristics of being thin and tempered with particles of clay similar in color to the Peters ceramics, an oxidized color. They can have semi-pointed or flat bottoms and are generally large; see Peters Cordmarked and Peters Plain.

Buck Garden (500–1200 CE) is crushed rock (of flint or sandstone) tempered, cord marked and with occasional paddle edge decorations. It is similar to Armstrong with less variation in shape and size.

Page pottery dates from 900–1450 CE in the western Piedmont Plateau region and west through the Great Valley, Ridge and Valley, and Appalachian Plateau regions of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Page Cord-marked ware has limestone-temper material.

Somerset phase ceramics are similar to Page ceramics of the upper Potomac River Valley. Somerset ceramics Type Site is based on the Pennsylvania Keyser Farm site (44PA1). Maryland sites with Page components include Nolands Ferry (18FR17)*, Mason Island (18MO13)*, Cresaptown (18AG119), Barton (18AG3), Sang Run (918GA22)*, Friendsville (18GA23)* (* collections at MAC Lab). The Page Cordmarked Rims center of distribution is in the Huffman Phase on the James River drainage of the western slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, otherwise, from the eastern slopes of the Allegheny Mountains through central Virginia.

Drew pottery (900~1350 CE) has a high percentage of plain ware and some with unique neck decorations. The latter has "parallel trailed elements as well as multiple motifs of lip appendages," according Richard George. This pottery's characteristics are slightly rounded bottoms rather than the tear-drop shape. The late Dr. Richard L. George, Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, likens this pottery shape to a "bean pot." Drew is an earlier phase of the Monongahelan of northern West Virginia and south western Pennsylvania. As suggested earlier by George, ongoing research projects evidence of Drew is increasingly seen as a separate culture (Johnson & Speedy 2009).

Monongahela Cordmarked, Plain, and Incised pottery is found to be tempered with crushed shell. They used a coiling technique with malleation (tapping) by paddle and anvil. A cord-wrapped paddle was made to create the Cordmarkings. Interiors are smoothed and are plain or cordmarked with some smoothing. Decorations are found near the lip and adjacent lower rim. Monongahela Incised has the addition of incised parallel or rectilinear lines. The Worley village Complex (46Mg23) dates to about 900 CE (WVAS). Monongahela ceramics begin with an early grit or limestone tempered group.

Feurt-incised pottery (beginning around 1100 CE) of the Fort Ancient Tradition appears along today's Ohio and West Virginia state bordering shores using shell tempering with its decorated incised oblique lines. It ranges from the lower Scioto and Guyandotte rivers and upstream to the lower Muskingum and Little Kanawha rivers area, central to the greater area of the 'Mouth of the Great Kanawha River'.

Cordage Twist impressed pottery decoration is found at Monongahelan and Fort Ancient sites of both shell tempered pottery and some limestone tempered. Middle and Late Woodland cordage twist in the state is among several more other earlier pottery finish types and more north-westerly S-twist cordage. Higher amounts of Z-twist are found at 7 sites in the west central of the state, or about half the later amount . By the Late Prehistoric and Protohistoric, the Z-Twist shows more predominantly on the Peterson map 5.1 in the southern half West Virginia—14 sites with 70-100% and the remaining 0-30% S-Twist Cordage. Gnagey village (southwest Pennsylvania, 36SO55 1000-1100 CE Monongahela, limestone) has 98% z-Twist (196 items) and 2% s-Twist (4 items). At the mouth of the Great Kanawha, the Lewis Farm site (46Ms57, 1300 CE, Feurt, shell) was excavated and had only Z-twist Cordage. These Z- and S-twist cordage methods date from 1000~1640 CE, ending with Rolfe Lee #1, 46Ms51 Clover, shell 87.7 Z-twist, 7% S-Twist (remainder not in-situ) and Rolfe Lee #2 46Ms123 Clover, shell 92% Z-Twist and 8% S-Twist (Maslowski 1984b).

The direction of the cord spin twist wrapped on the paddle is either S, left to right, or Z, right to left. The type appears in E Virginia earlier (a mix of twist pre-200 CE), and through to Vermont after the end of the Middle Woodland period about CE 800. During the Sponemann phase (750-800 CE), Sponemann Site is the type site for non-American Bottom migrants making a high amount of Z-Twist pottery using chert for temper. These non-residents are a significant influx into the area with the first significant evidence for maize before the occurrence of the cities of Cahokia people. The other dominant phase in the region of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers confluence is the Patrick Phase. These people existed from 1350-1150 BP. Like Sponemann people, they were more complex than bands, but, less complex than chiefdoms and the indicators are not present that would show a ranking and stratification society). Patrick Phase pottery is marked predominately with S-twist cordage.

Corncob-Impressed Pottery at Late Prehistoric Sites in West Virginia Because of recent field research results, quoting "A significant percentage of the assemblage (Recent excavations at Burning Spring Branch 46Ka142) exhibited corncob impressing similar to that found in southwestern Virginia. A study of pottery from other sites in West Virginia determined that the use of this previously unrecognized surface treatment was extensive. This discovery adds weight to the argument that Siouan groups migrated through West Virginia and may have inhabited the Kanawha Valley. It also suggests that further research is needed to determine associations between the precontact inhabitants of the Kanawha Valley and those in southwestern Virginia and the Ohio Valley."

There are no clearly Classic Mississippian culture pottery found in West Virginia. The nearest pure Mississippian archeological site is located near Evansville, Indiana, just below the Louisville Falls, according to several regional societies, particularly referencing the Ohio Historical Society observations. These refined definitions are based on the latest modern tools and field science within the region, which tends to make obsolete the publications of earlier decades, based on older work from neighboring regions. Within the greater Mississippi Culture, the Plaquemine culture used shell for tempering on their round vessels with some having narrow necks that were engraved after firing as early as 700 CE.

A very early Fort Ancient village on the Ohio River at Wood County (46WD1) has been dated to 891 CE and again to 973 CE (Graybill 1987). The Feurt ceramics and neighboring Baum ceramics adjoining Baldwin phases, and nearby Monongahelan ceramics, are contemporaneous with the easterly Page pottery people of the border region of the Virginias from the divide of the Alleghenian mountains. The Watson ceramics period precedes all of these in the upper Ohio Valley and in the Potomac Highlands.

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