Central States Archaeological Societies
Central States Archaeological Societies
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An Unusual Shard of Pottery

by Bob Reeves,

Central States Archaeological Societies 2012 July Journal

Dandridge, Tennessee


This unusual and interesting shard of grit tempered pottery came from a Woodland site on the upper French Broad River in Cocke County, Tennessee on 12-28-2011. From first appearance, it looks like any one of thousands of shards common to such sites, but closer scrutiny reveals a very unusual trait. There is fabric stamped patterns on both the inside and the outside surfaces. Most shards exhibit this texture on the outside of the vessel and the inside will be fairly smooth.

Evidently, the Indian used two fabric wrapped paddles when finishing this vessel. During the thinning and annealing process, one paddle was held vertically and the other was held in a horizontal position. The impression of the fabric is not as robust on one side as on the other, but both imprints are of a similar type of coarse fabric, possibly pieces of the same cloth.

I have looked at thousands of pottery shards over the years, and this is the first of this type I have ever found or seen. I read of only one other such shard having been found, and that was in a report from a site in South Carolina.
At top: Front and back views of unusual shard of grit tempered pottery that has fabric stamped impressions on both sides.