Confronting a Dragon’s Offspring in the Americas

Author(s): Christopher Fennell; George Calfas

Year: 2014


The first innovation of alkaline-glazed stoneware pottery in the Americas occurred in Edgefield, South Carolina, in the early 1800s. These potteries employed enslaved and free African Americans, and stoneware forms also show evidence of likely African cultural influence on stylistic designs. Archaeological investigations in 2011 at the first Edgefield kiln, built circa 1815, were informed by a strong consensus among historians that the facility was an early form of groundhog kiln for a relatively small-scale craft enterprise. Excavations revealed that the tradition of Southern alkaline glazed stoneware started in Edgefield based on an infrastructure of industrial-scale production and enslaved artisans. Three of the earliest Edgefield kilns in the 1800s proved through archaeology to consist of up-hill, dragon kiln designs utilized successfully for centuries in southeast China. Edgefield thus represents “a crossroads of clay” where the influences of Asia, Africa, and Europe were combined. Archaeologists are astounded, historians are flabbergasted.

Cite this Record

Confronting a Dragon’s Offspring in the Americas. Christopher Fennell, George Calfas. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436894)

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Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-35,15