The Significance of Shell-Tempered Pottery in Middle Fort Ancient Assemblages: An Example from the SunWatch Site

Rob Cook, The Ohio State University

The shift to the use of shell temper in Fort Ancient pottery production is poorly understood. Arguments have primarily differed in terms of whether or not neighboring Middle Mississippian groups influenced this development. This paper explores this issue by examining properties of shell-tempered pottery within a single Fort Ancient village - the SunWatch site. Specific comparisons are made between vessel morphology, petrographic variation, and the spatial and temporal contexts of shell-tempered pottery as compared to other temper types. Results indicate that shell-tempered pottery is: (1) morphologically distinct, (2) made from non-local clay sources, and (3) closely associated with later portions of the village that can be specifically linked with the occurrence of diagnostic Middle Mississippian characteristics.

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