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Clay Fingerprints: The Elemental Identification of Coarse Earthenwares from the Mid-Atlantic

Author(s): Lindsay Bloch

Year: 2016

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Working with fragmentary collections, it is often difficult for archaeologists to assess potentially diagnostic vessel forms or surface treatments on utilitarian ceramics. It is therefore a challenge to identify the production origins for many of these wares. Surveying the products from 24 historic earthenware kiln sites in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, this paper considers the reliability of visual attributes such as paste color and inclusions for distinguishing the products of different potters and traditions. Elemental analysis is used as an independent line of evidence to characterize the clays that compose these wares, creating compositional groups that mark geographic boundaries of production. The synthesis of visual and elemental data provides insight into how archaeologists should describe and interpret these wares in their collections. 

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Clay Fingerprints: The Elemental Identification of Coarse Earthenwares from the Mid-Atlantic. Lindsay Bloch. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 435028)


Temporal Keywords
18th-19th c.

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 181

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America