Beyond Ethnicity: Compositional Analysis and the Manufacture and Trade of Colonoware.

Author(s): Brian Crane

Year: 2016


Hand-built, low-fired pottery from South Carolina exhibit a sometimes bewildering degree of heterogeneity. Analysis of vessel form, construction technique, temper inclusions, chemistry and surface treatment suggests a broad range of practice and potential cultural influence. Colonoware vessel forms and surface treatment display a complex blending of traditions that arose from the entangled lives of Africans, Native Americans and Europeans and reveal something of the complex cultural relationships within which colonowares were manufactured, traded, and used. But while discussion of the elements of vessel form and surface treatment have been extensive, compositional analysis remains very limited. Neutron activation analysis (NAA) conducted on South Carolina colonowares excavated in and near Charleston displayed a high degree of heterogeneity while also finding chemical similarities that crosscut visual types. This is not unexpected as historical references mention itinerant potters making and selling pots as they traveled across South Carolina. Since vessel chemistry will relate to the place clay for a pot was procured rather than who made it, NAA offers one way to move beyond the ethnicity debate and explore the manufacture and trade of colonowares as they fit into local communities and the broader plantation economy.

Cite this Record

Beyond Ethnicity: Compositional Analysis and the Manufacture and Trade of Colonoware.. Brian Crane. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403796)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;