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we need to read first (choose at least two reading) , and answer question, here are the specific question and requirement:This week we have topically diverse readings that focus on the late eighteenth century through the mid nineteenth century. Choose at least two of the readings to discuss, which can be about the same topic or comparative.Archaeologists at Monticello have investigated the home of Thomas Jefferson, as well as the the enslaved quarter. What ideas do the researchers suggest the landscape and plantation layout convey, and how may we critically consider this aspect of America’s heritage spaces? What perceptions do the researchers reject, based on the archaeology of the foodways of the enslaved? Maroon societies comprise another aspect of the enslaved-to-freedom experience in America. Are the archaeologies of these conflicted and complicated spaces adequately shared and understood by contemporary society? What did you find new or unexpected from this week’s readings? The CSS Hunley sank in the Charleston Harbor nearly 150 years ago. Archaeologists have recovered the vessel and the remains of its crew. What questions have researchers answered about the Hunley and what surprising stories have emerged from this example of our “buried past”? The Hunley was submerged underwater and thus required what sorts of differing methodologies to excavate? In what ways have interdisciplinary approaches contributed to our understanding of the Hunley and its crew?Excavations of the Catawba Indian Reservation reveal a narrative of culture change for America’s indigenous peoples. Based on the artifactual record, what forms of material culture were present at Catawba during the late 18th and early 19th centuries? What explanations can we give for the transformation of Catawba culture, and how might we link this process to our own lives? For instance, consider global commodity chains and consumption.


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Brett H. Riggs, R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr.,
and Mark R. Plane
Written accounts of the Catawba Indians during the late eighteenth and early
nineteenth centuries indicate that their potters engaged in a thriving ceramic
trade as early as the 1770s and regularly peddled their wares as far afield as
Charleston. The scant documentary evidence of this trade is often cited by
researchers who identify Catawba “River Burnished” pottery among
“Colonowares” from Anglo-American and African-American contexts in the
Lowcountry. Recent archaeological excavations at New Town (1781–1820)
in Lancaster County, South Carolina, have recovered substantial ceramic
assemblages from the Catawbas’ home base. Analysis of these assemblages
provides a basis for comparison with “Colonoware” collections and may
provide a key for attributing some low-fired earthenwares to their ultimate
The frequent incidence of “colonoware” sherds in eighteenth and
nineteenth-century archaeological contexts throughout South Carolina
has spawned considerable speculation and debate about the cultural
origins and meanings of such wares (Anthony 1979, 1986; Baker 1972;
Beck 1995; Blumer 2004; Cooper and Steen 1998; Drucker and Anthony
1979; Espenshade and Kennedy 2002; Ferguson 1980, 1990, 1992;
Groover 1992; Joseph 2004; Joseph et al. 2004; Lees and Kimberly-Lees
1979; Lewis 1976; South 1974; Steen et al. 1996; Wheaton et al. 1983;
Wheaton and Garrow 1985; Zierden et al. 1986). Documentary accounts
indicate that Catawba Indian potters engaged in a thriving ceramic trade
throughout the region during the Federal period (Gregorie 1925; Simms
1841; Smyth 1785), and researchers have attributed certain colonowares
from Anglo-American and African-American contexts to Catawba Indian
sources. However, in the absence of well-documented comparative
samples from contemporaneous Catawba habitation sites, such
attribution had been, as Ferguson (1980) noted, “indirect.”
Recent archaeological excavations at New Town, the Catawbas’
primary Federal-period settlement in Lancaster County, South Carolina
Figure 1. Map of the Catawba Indian homeland showing selected sites that have yielded
Catawba pottery of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
(Figure 1), have filled this comparative void (Davis and Riggs 2004a,
2004b, 2005, 2006). These investigations, undertaken between 2003 and
2005 by the University of North Carolina, recovered almost 62,500
sherds and vessel sections that amply illustrate the character and
variability of Catawba pottery at its source during the heyday of the
ceramic trade. Analysis of these assemblages establishes a baseline for
Figure 2. Portion of a map titled “The First Actual Survey of the State of North
Carolina,” by Jonathan Price and John Strothers, 1808, showing the Catawba Reservation
established in 1763. The settlement labeled “Catawba Town,” established at the close of
the American Revolution and abandoned by about 1820, was also known as New Town.
comparison with “colonoware” collections and may provide
technological and stylistic keys for definitively attributing some (or
most) of the low-fired colonowares from South Carolina contexts to
Catawba Indian potters.
New Town is situated in the uplands overlooking the Catawba River
near Rock Hill, South Carolina, in the Piedmont homelands where
Spanish explorers first encountered the towns of Cataba and Yssa in the
mid-sixteenth century (Hudson et al. 1984) (Figure 2). As the primary
native power of the piedmont interior, the Catawbas (also known as the
Esaus or Nassaus) absorbed numerous refugee groups displaced by
colonial “shatter zones” in the early eighteenth century (Adair 1930
[1775]; Merrell 1989; also see Fitts, this volume). As late as midcentury, these diverse refugee groups maintained distinct identities and
cultural traditions. A catastrophic population collapse in 1759 brought
about a final coalescence and ethnogenesis of a single, unified Catawba
identity. By the time of the American Revolution, the Catawba Nation
constituted a single settlement near the mouth of Twelve Mile Creek, at
the southern edge of a 15-mile square reservation surveyed in 1764.
After Revolutionary War disruptions and a year-long sojourn in Virginia,
the American-allied Catawbas reformed their community as New Town a
few miles north of the former settlement at Twelve Mile. Elkanah
Watson visited New Town in 1785 and found a scattered village of log
houses (Watson 1856). Bishop Thomas Coke saw the settlement in
1791, and noted: “We now made a visit to the Catawba Indians. Their
Nation is reduced to a very small number, and chiefly live in a little
town, which in England would be only called a village (Coke
2005:160).” New Town gradually diminished during the 1810s as
families transferred to a still newer town across the river. The New
Town settlement was completely abandoned in the 1820s following the
death of community leader Sally New River (Brown 1966).
Archaeology at New Town
The site of New Town occupies approximately 12 hectares on a
wooded ridge that borders part of the Waxhaws’ Old Fields on the east
side of the Catawba River (Figure 3). Researchers identified the site
based upon contemporary maps, documentary accounts, and Catawba
oral traditions. Intensive surface reconnaissance and metal detector
survey of the New Town locality have identified seven separate clusters
of Catawba ceramics and Federal-period manufactured goods. These
clusters correspond to individual cabin seats or small hamlets; the diffuse
community configuration appears consistent with an 1815 description of
New Town as “6 or 8 houses facing an oblong square” (Jones 1815).
Excavations at six of these cabin loci total approximately 800 sq
meters (Davis and Riggs 2004a, 2005, 2006). This work, conducted over
three summers, exposed chimney bases and hearths, cellar pits, borrow
pits, peripheral dumps, and sheet midden deposits that date ca. 1790–
1820. These investigations have recovered over 86,000 artifacts,
including a wide array of diagnostic Federal-period materials, such as
English-made pearlware and creamware sherds, bottle glass and
glassware, coins, cast iron vessel fragments, riding tack hardware,
ammunition, and jewelry.
Figure 3. Topographic map of New Town showing the distribution of metal-detected
artifacts and the location of excavation units. Each of the artifact clusters represents a log
cabin seat or group of cabins.
Figure 4. Fragments of Catawba-made vessel rims (interior view), handles, and podes
found at New Town.
Characteristics of New Town Pottery
The collection of artifacts from New Town also comprises almost
62,500 low-fired earthenware sherds and 593 ceramic tobacco pipe
fragments attributable to the Federal-period Catawba occupation (Figures
4 and 5). These sherds include 30,088 sherdlets smaller than two
centimeters in diameter, which were counted but not classified further.
Figure 5. Catawba-made clay pipes from New Town. The pipes in the middle row and
top left are decorated with incisions and punctuations. The specimen in the top row,
second from left, is a toy tomahawk effigy pipe with a missing bowl. The two pipes at
upper right also are toys.
Among the remaining 32,411 analyzed sherds are 4,748 rim fragments,
2,765 basal portions, 24,651 body sherds, 245 appendages such as
handles, lugs, and podes, and one complete ceramic bottle and stopper.
Clays used for New Town pottery typically fired medium golden
brown to dark buff, similar to modern Catawba wares. Minority hues
range from pale buff to tan to pale gray. All of the New Town pottery
probably derives from immediately local clay sources; active Catawba
clay pits are located within two miles of the site, and contemporary
observers noted that New Town potters got their clay “from the river.”
Most of the sherds appear temperless, with very fine mica flecks that are
natural constituents of the clay. However, some sherds exhibit moderate
quantities of medium-grained sand, and a few sherd bodies contain
relatively coarse-grained, mixed sand (Figure 6). The varied aplastic
Figure 6. Cross-section view of Catawba sherds from New Town.
content of New Town sherds probably reflects the character of available
pottery clays rather than additive material. A number of later nineteenthcentury observers noted that Catawba potters employed very fine-grained
“pipe clay” which they mixed in proportion to coarser-grained “pan clay”
to achieve desired textures for different products (Holmes 1903; also see
Harrington 1908). In general, ceramic tobacco pipes from New Town
exhibit very fine-grained bodies while large cooking jars exhibit the
coarsest bodies.
The vast majority of New Town vessels appear to have been coil
built, although vessel bodies exhibit strong coil integrity and seldom
break on coil junctures. A few small, relatively crude “pinch pots”
appear to be toys. The bodies of elbow-form ceramic tobacco pipes were
press-molded with bowl and stem holes bored into leather hard clay (see
Figure 5).
Vessel wall thicknesses range from 2 mm to 10 mm, with an
average thickness of 5.2 mm. Vessel walls are evenly thinned and
uniform as a consequence of intensive scraping and trimming of leatherhard vessels during the manufacturing process. As Harrington noted in
1908, Catawba potters used steel or cane knives or mussel shells to
scrape vessel surfaces (Harrington 1908:404).
Exterior finishes are exclusively plain, in most cases with secondary
burnishing or polishing. Mooney (Holmes 1903), Harrington (1908), and
others observed Catawba potters burnishing or rubbing vessels with
water-tumbled quartz pebbles, and finishing less accessible nooks and
Figure 7. Catawba pan recovered from a cabin hearth at Locus 4. Note the black
smudged interior.
crannies with bone burnishers. Thirty-five incised sherds with shallow,
over-smoothed straight lines were recovered, and these all derive from a
single beaker with podes. Most ceramic tobacco pipes are dry-incised or
etched with a variety fine-line geometric patterns and tic marks (see
Figure 5).
Interior finishes of completed, functional vessels are typically wellsmoothed or burnished and smudged black (Figure 7). This layer of
carbon serves to waterproof vessels and fills or obscures interior surface
irregularities. In 1815, Calvin Jones noted that the New Town potters
burned their vessels “with bark which makes the exposed side a glossy
black.” Seventy years later, James Mooney observed Catawba potters
filling vessels with broken bark for firing, then inverting the vessels to
achieve smudged interiors (Holmes 1903).
Approximately 10% of rim sherds are decorated with orange or red
pigment, typically applied to contrast against the blackened fields of lip
interiors (Figure 8). Three sherds are painted with a silvery-blue
pigment. Lumps of orange pigment recovered from New Town contexts
appear to be desiccated commercial sealing wax, the Catawba pigment of
choice noted in Simms’ 1841 account in the fictional “Loves of the
Figure 8. Painted sherds from New Town (top) and lumps of red sealing wax (bottom).
The sealing wax is thought to have been used as paint pigment.
Figure 9. Range of vessel forms represented at New Town. These computer-generated
vessel models are based on measured profiles of rim and basal sherds.
Catawba Vessel Assemblage at New Town
The New Town vessel assemblage includes pans, jars, bowls, plates,
bottles, cups, and handled pots, as well as unique forms (Figure 9). The
most common vessel form is a flat-based pan, with either trapezoidal or
gently excurvate wall profiles, that closely resembles English milk pans
and brass cooking kettles (Figure 10). Pan rims are frequently thinned
with interior tapers or bevels that terminate in well-defined, square lips.
Documented pans range in size from 13 cm to 29 cm in diameter and up
to 12 cm in height. These vessels appear to have functioned in both
cooking and food service.
Large, beveled-rim bowls are morphologically similar to pans, but
have proportionately smaller flattened bases (Figure 11). Documented
Figure 10. Earthenware pan form and representative sherds from New Town.
Figure 11. Earthenware beveled-rim bowl form and representative sherds from New
examples are 26 cm to 28 cm in diameter. These bowls exhibit gently
curving wall profiles surmounted by narrow vertical rims. Rim interiors
are well-defined by a broad, beveled facet.
Recurvate-walled jars with everted thickened or collared rims and
flat bases appear to be adaptations of traditional native cooking jars
(Figure 12). These cooking jars range from 17 cm to 22 cm in (orifice)
diameter, with approximate capacities of three liters to six liters. Ten
percent of New Town rims are attributable to this distinctive form. A
much smaller mode of this collared vessel form, with 9 cm to 12 cm
orifices, is provisionally classed as a drinking pot (Figure 13). Other
small, globular, flat-based “drinking pots” evince simple rims.
Plates and slightly deeper soup plates appear to be direct copies of
creamware and pearlware analogs, with broad, well-defined marleys,
wells with rounded walls, and flat bases with no footrings (Figure 14).
Plate marleys are typically slightly concave, with thinned and rounded
lips. In some instances, plate brims are slightly fluted with finger
molding. A number of plate rims are scalloped, and some are edge
painted in direct emulation of English shell-edge decoration. Several
plate base interiors exhibit knife scoring and other use-wear traces that
attest the use of these vessels in table dining with knives and forks. Plate
diameters range from 20 cm to 26 cm, with an average diameter of 23
Small bowls and handle-less cups frequently exhibit pedestal bases
or bases with molded or applied footrings (Figure 15). These 8 cm to 16
cm diameter vessels exhibit vertical rims with narrow interior bevels that
define rounded or slightly everted lips. Other cups exhibit simple flat
bases, and a number are decorated with red or orange paint (Figure 16).
Small, one-handled globular pots are characterized by squat,
bulbous bodies, broad flanged lips, and large flattened loop handles
(Figure 17). These resemble English chamber pots in form, but measure
between 16 cm and 18 cm in diameter, and more likely were used as
porringers. Similar handled pots are documented in late nineteenthcentury ethnographic collections.
A unique, incised beaker is the only vessel with podal supports that
has been reconstructed (Figure 18). Other flat basal sherds with tripodal
supports may represent small kettles or pipkins. Wide-mouthed, shortnecked bottles or beakers are represented by a number of neck and rim
fragments, but the complete vessel profiles could not be reconstructed.
Pitcher forms are not readily distinguished, although one polished,
incised, punctuated-and-painted sherd may derive from a pitcher
handle/wall juncture. Other unique forms include a small, keg-shaped
Figure 12. Earthenware cooking jar form and representative sherds from New Town.
Figure 13. Earthenware drinking pot form and representative sherds from New Town.
Figure 14. Earthenware plate form and representative sherds from New Town.
Figure 15. Earthenware footed bowl form and representative sherds from New Town.
Figure 16. Earthenware cup forms and representative sherds from New Town.
Figure 17. Earthenware handled pot forms and representative sherds from New Town.
Figure 18. Earthenware footed beaker form and representative sherds from New Town.
Figure 19. Earthenware bottle, stoppers, and other vessel fragments from New Town.
Figure 20. Frequency histogram showing the size distribution (as measured by rim
diameter) of English-made and Catawba-made hollowware serving vessels at New Town.
bottle, probable bottle stoppers, and a polished and painted toy
tomahawk pipe (Figure 19; also see Figure 5).
Many of the New Town vessel forms either duplicate or
approximate English ceramics from the same contexts. Comparison of
vessel size distributions reveals that the Catawba wares and English
wares form a complementary size continuum, with Catawba pottery
spanning the larger end of the spectrum (Figure 20). This
complementarity suggests that Catawba wares were not simply “poor
man’s china” but instead articulated with the Catawbas’ highly informed
consumption of imported ceramics.
Pottery Production and Trade
The absolute and relative abundance and diversity of Catawba wares
at New Town indicates that native ceramics played a conspicuous, even
omnipresent, role in the life of the community. Widespread evidence for
ceramic production at the site bolsters this view and suggests scales of
production far greater than domestic demand required. Broad, shallow,
linear trench features appear to be clay curing facilities of the type used
by contemporary Catawba potters (Baker, personal communication
2003). Pottery waster dumps include heavily over-fired sherds that
probably represent firing furniture (Figure 21). Faceted and polished
burnishing stones occur at most of the cabins, and are particularly
concentrated around Loci 2 and 3 (Figure 22). Such burnishers are
Figure 21. Over-fired Catawba earthenware vessel fragments from a probable waster
dump at Locus 3.
Figure 22. Burnishing stones from Locus 2 at New Town.
typically highly curated, heirloom tools that seldom occur in
archaeological contexts. Recovery of more than a dozen such tools (and
fragments) in community refuse at New Town is unusual, and may
indicate larger scales and higher intensity of ceramic production for
commercial sale.
When Calvin Jones visited New Town in 1815, he witnessed a
bustling ceramic industry aimed at American markets. Jones noted:
Next to Newtown …Men gone hunting and fishing. Women making
pans — Clay from the river — shape them with their hands and burn
them with bark which makes the exposed side a glossy black. A
pitcher a quarter of a dollar. Sell pans frequently for the full
[measure] of meal. Saw some sitting on their beds and making
pans.… [Jones 1815]
Such trade wares from New Town are well represented in Federalperiod archaeological assemblages from Tivoli (38LA299 and
38LA301), Gen. William R. Davie’s Lancaster County plantation (ca.
1805–1820) located 12 km south of the Catawba settlement (see Figure
1). Contexts at the main house site and slave quarters, excavated by
University of North Carolina archaeologists in 2006, yielded substantial
quantities of Catawba pottery (n=1,586 sherds) indistinguishable from
that found at New Town (Figure 23). At Davie’s residence, Catawba
sherds (n=631) constitute 45% of the Federal-period ceramic
assemblage. Thin-bodied, black burnished or polished hollowwares with
red-painted accents, referable to the River Burnished type (Ferguson
1990), are well represented …
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