CART Biweekly Update – 24 March

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Link: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/press/html/ir035-17.htm

Email the lab crew: cartcarchlab@live.com – the field crew: cart.volunteers@live.com

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Projectile Points – Notched

By Elizabeth Paynter – CART Lab Director

As mentioned in prior blog posts, the base or stem of the projectile point is necessary for identification of the specific projectile point type. This kind of stone tool is organized into common stem or base shapes in order to aid typological classification.

A side notch is one of the projectile point forms that helps archaeologists to organize and identify projectile points. A notch is a half semi-circular, U, or V shape that has been flaked from the base of a stone tool for the purpose of hafting or attaching the tool, such as a projectile point, to a handle or shaft. A side notch simply means that an area was removed from a projectile point’s lower sides.

In our mid-Atlantic region, the side notch is a technology that was used from Paleolithic times into the Middle Woodland. One example of a point with a side notch is the Halifax point. Halifax points date to the Middle Archaic. The blade is usually long and narrow. The base is typically broad and somewhat straight with side notches that are wide and shallow. Another side notch shaped point is the Brewerton Side Notched. Brewerton Side Notched points date from the Middle Archaic period to the Late Archaic. The blade itself is triangular in shape while the side notch is of a medium size and is well formed.

A corner notch is another major projectile point form. It is similar to a side notch. The difference between a side notch and a corner notch is the location of the removed notch. As the name indicates, a corner notch projectile point has a notch in the corner of a projectile point’s base. Projectile points in our region with corner notches can be found on sites from Early Archaic to Middle Woodland. One such example of a corner notched point is the Palmer point. This early archaic point has a small triangular blade usually with serrated edges. The base is straight and ground and has small corner notches.

References:

Justice, Noel D. 1987. Stone Age Spear and Arrow Points of the Midcontinental and Eastern United States, A Modern Survey and Reference. Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis, Indiana

MAC Lab. 2012. Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab (MAAC Lab). Originally Published 2002. Electronic. http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/index.htm accessed March 16, 2017

VDHR Collections. Native American Comparative Collections. Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Electronic. http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/arch_DHR/archaeo_lpc.htm accessed March 16, 2017

Further Reading:

The Virginia Timeline – A Virginia Timeline Part I: Before Jamestown
Typologies – Let’s Get to the Point about Typologies
The Making of Stone Tools – Understanding Basics of Lithic Production
The Anatomy of a Projectile Point – Piscataway Points

 

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CART Biweekly Update – 10 March

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Artifact Highlight: Staffordshire Slipware

Reproduction of Staffordshire Slipware

Reproduction of Staffordshire Slipware

by Elizabeth PaynterArchaeological Laboratory Director

A common ceramic we find during our excavations of early historic sites in this area is Staffordshire slipware. It was produced in England and exported to America starting in the later part of the seventeenth century and continued to be exported widely through much of the eighteenth century. Typically, it can be found on American sites that range from about 1675 to 1775.

Staffordshire slip vessels are usually buff to yellow bodied and often have sand or minerals within the paste. The clear lead glaze is often yellowish as a result of iron inclusions and the underlying slips. The distinguishing factor of Staffordshire slip is primarily the slip decoration. A piece is typically coated with a cream or brown slip and the design created in the contrasting color. Most of the Staffordshire slipwares we recover during our excavations have simple designs such as a trailed slip lines or dots. Typical forms include bowls, candle holders, chamber pots, cups, mugs, pitchers, plates and platters. Platter edges are often crenulated to give it a “pie crust” rim.

References:

FLMNH Ceramic. (n.d.). Ceramic Types in Collection. Historical Archaeology. Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH). Electronic. http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/histarch/gallery_types/about.asp accessed May 3, 2017

Hume, Ivor Noël. 1974. A Guide to Artifacts of Colonial America. Alfred A Knopf, Inc., New York, New York. Originally Published 1970

MAC Lab. 2012. Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab (MAC Lab). Originally Published 2002. Electronic. http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/index.htm accessed May 3, 2017

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The CART Bi-Weekly Update – 24 February

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Creamware, Pearlware and Whiteware

Creamware, Pearlware, Whiteware (left to right)

Creamware, Pearlware, Whiteware (left to right)

by Kayla MarciniszynCART Assistant Lab Director and Collections Assistant

Ceramics provide an effective means of dating historical sites or a particular soil layer because stylistic elements change over time. There are certain wares and decorative techniques that have very specific date ranges that archaeologists can utilize when dating a site if other non-diagnostic artifacts are present. While there are dozens of known types and wares, white refined earthenwares are often prevalent on American sites and can be categorized into three basic ware types: creamware, pearlware, and whiteware. All three have specific production date ranges as well as varying stylistic elements that can help us further refine those dates.

Creamware, the earliest of the three, was formally introduced in England by Josiah Wedgwood in 1762. Cream-colored wares were being produced as early as the 1740s, but Wedgwood succeeded in creating a more refined ware. Wedgwood coined this ware as “Queen’s Ware” after completing his commission for Queen Charlotte in 1765 (Wedgwood Museum 2016). The creamy color seen in the glaze is achieved by the addition of copper to a lead oxide glaze. In places where the glaze pools, such as a footring, the glaze will look almost green. The popularity of creamware began to decline around 1800 with the introduction of pearlware and is virtually non-existent after 1820.

English potters experimented different techniques in order to achieve a ceramic that could achieve the glass-like appearance of Chinese porcelain. It was discovered that by adding cobalt to a lead oxide glaze potters could achieve the blue-tinted glaze found on early Chinese porcelains. This ware goes by a few different names including pearl white, China glaze, and pearlware. China glaze appears as early as 1775 but Josiah Wedgwood introduced his “pearl white” wares in 1779 (Miller and Hunter 2016). We usually refer to any ceramics with the blue-tinted glaze as “pearlware,” an adaptation of Wedgwood’s “pearl white,” but some may refer to pearlwares with a Chinese-style decoration as “China glaze.”

Over time the use of cobalt decreased, most likely due to the expense of obtaining the mineral. Fun fact: the word cobalt is derived from the German word “kobalt,” which means “goblin.” Cobalt ore, when smelted, produces a powder that contains arsenic, which is highly toxic. As the use of cobalt decreased, whiteware begins to emerge, approximately around 1820. During the transition between pearlware and whiteware, it can sometimes be difficult to determine the difference between the two. Early whitewares can have a slight blue hue to the glaze, particularly in areas where the glaze is thicker. Sometimes we define this as transitional whiteware. Whitewares are still produced today.

So, when identifying white refined earthenwares look at the color of the glaze! Sometimes it is helpful to set the ceramic sherd on a white piece of paper. Whitewares will blend in with the paper but creamware and pearlware should stand out.

refined-white-earthenware-timeline

References

Wedgwood Museum. 2016. “Queen’s Ware.” Accessed February 16, 2017. http://www.wedgwoodmuseum.org.uk/learning/discovery-packs/pack/lives-of-the-wedgwoods/chapter/queens-ware

Miller, G. and Hunter, R. 2016. “How Creamware Got the Blues: The Origins of China Glaze and Pearlware.” Accessed February 16, 2017. http://www.chipstone.org/html/publications/CIA/2001/MillerHunter/MillHuntIndex.html

Further Reading

Jefferson Patterson Park Mac Lab. “The Evolution of Creamware, Pearlware and Whiteware.” http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/Post-Colonial%20Ceramics/Shell%20Edged%20Wares/Shell%20Edged%20Wares%202nd%20page.htm

Seidel, J. 1990. ““China Glaze” Wares on Sites from the American Revolution: Pearlware Before Wedgewood?” Historical Archaeology 24 (1): 82-95. Ceramics in the image are listed from left to right: creamware, pearlware, and whiteware

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The CART Bi-Weekly Update – 10 February

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