Sherd of Manganese-Mottled ceramic

by Elizabeth PaynterCART Lab Director

Manganese-mottled ceramics became popular in the late 17th century and reduced in popularity by the middle 18th century. They were produced in both Staffordshire, England and Buckley, Wales. The yellowish to brownish lead glaze that is often streaked or speckled with dark brown makes it appear mottled. Sometimes a slip is used which can affect the hue of the glaze. This earthenware most often has a buff interior fabric without inclusions, but the paste does vary. While other forms such as large bowls and jars have been found, most often manganese-mottled ceramics are tankards, mugs and cups. Commonly, a manganese-mottled vessel will have no decoration or very simple decoration such as grooved lines around the it or an applied or impressed mark with the initials of the reigning monarch.


Bagley, Joe. (n.d). City of Boston Archaeology Ceramic ID Grid. City of Boston Archaeology. Electronic. Modified version can be found accessed March 1, 2018

MAC Lab. 2015. Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab (MAC Lab). Originally Published 2002. Electronic. accessed March 1, 2018

Williams, Peter. 2003. The Talbot Hotel Pit Group. Ceramics in America. Vol 2003. Chipstone Foundation, England. Can be found as electronic. accessed March 1, 2018.


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Passing Another Milestone

Today CART opened the 300th (and 301st and 302nd) test unit at Colchester! Here, the team are exposing architectural stone, we suspect part of a mid-eighteen century slave quarter.

We decided at the beginning of the ongoing Colchester project to treat the park as a single resource. So, it is all on one grid; all units and features are logged sequentially, regardless of specific site. Methodology is uniform. This means that all data are integrated and easily comparable.

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CART Bi-Weekly Update

2 March 2018


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Just a Reminder – Weather and the Lab

The Archaeology Team prefers everyone live long full happy lives, so in any weather event, please stay off the roads if there is any question of safety regardless of the following protocol.

Winter and the Archaeology Lab:

The Park Authority follows Fairfax County Government closures.

  • If Fairfax County Government is closed: the office and archaeology lab will be closed & any fieldwork suspended.
  • If Fairfax County Government opens late or closes early: the office and archaeology lab will be closed & any fieldwork suspended at the announced time of day.

The lab may close under the following conditions:

  • If Fairfax County Schools open late or are closed: It is possible lab and field volunteering may begin late or be suspended. Please check with us via email when we will be open before coming to volunteer.
  • If Fairfax County Government Employees have the option of “liberal leave”: It is possible lab and field volunteering will be suspended. Please check with us via email when we will be open before coming to volunteer.

There are several websites with pertinent information

Please note Fairfax County Park Authority weather procedure.  Park facilities may still be open and classes still scheduled even when the CART lab is closed.

If you have any questions or concerns or want to check our schedule, please feel free to write us at  or the field crew at

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The Shape of a Point

by Elizabeth S Paynter  – CART Lab Director

There are many characteristics that help categorize a projectile point and identify what time period it was created. Projectile points are in part defined by their shape, specifically looking at the shape of the base, blade edge, basal edge and cross section. It is good to keep in mind, as with most things archaeological, that different groups may use different terminology to describe the same thing and that the nomenclature and identifying attributes may differ slightly.

The tip or distal end of a projectile point is the pointed part at the top. From the tip down, a projectile point includes the tip, the blade, the shoulder, the half element or stem, and the base at the bottom.

Anatomy of a Projectile Point

Basic Point Shape

Some basic base shapes used to help classify a point include Bifurcate, Lanceolate, Notched, Pentagonal, Stemmed and Triangle. Pervious blog posts have covered descriptions for some of these shape types such as Corner Notched and Side Notched and Triangle Points.

Stem Shape

More recently, CART has excavated a stemmed projectile point (pictured above). Stemmed points can be identified in several ways such as Straight, Expanding or Contracting. A straight stem has somewhat parallel sides. An expanding stem widens at the base. A contracting stem converges towards the base.

Basal Edge

Descriptions for the basal edge include flat, concave, convex, and oblique. A flat basal edge has a fairly straight proximal edge of the base. A concave basal edge is a base that indents. A convex basal edge protrudes. An oblique basal edge exhibits angles that are acute and obtuse.

Blade Edge

The blade edge is yet another helpful tool in typing a projectile point. Straight blade edges do not curve. Excurvate edges bulge out in a smooth convex curve. Incurvate edges indent in a smooth convex curve.

Cross Section Shape

If a projectile point is cut across the blade horizontally, the shape of the cross section varies. Cross section shapes often include biconvex, median ridged, plano-convex, and flat cross section. A biconvex cross section protrudes out on both faces in a convex curve making an elliptical shape. Median ridged is diamond shaped. Plano-convex is somewhat flat on one face and protrudes outward in a smooth curve on the other side. A flat cross section is flattened on both faces of the projectile point.

The projectile point pictured at the beginning of this post is broken at the top exhibiting its biconvex cross section.

Read Let’s Get to the Point about Typologies to understand why identifying the projectile point type is important.


MAC Lab. 2012. Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab (MAAC Lab). Originally Published 2002. Electronic. accessed February 21, 2018

VDHR Collections. Native American Comparative Collections. Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Electronic. accessed February 21, 2018

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CART Bi-Weekly Update

16 February 2018

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Gunston Hall Archaeology Symposium

Saturday 3 March 2018

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