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Technological Choice in Pottery Production at Wickliffe Mounds, Kentucky. Paper presented at the 63 rd annual Midwest Archaeological Conference in

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Technological Choice in Pottery Production at Wickliffe Mounds, Kentucky. Paper presented at the 63 rd annual Midwest Archaeological Conference in
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  Farace, Anthony P., 2019. Technological Choice in Pottery Production at Wickliffe Mounds, Kentucky. Paper presented at the 63 rd  annual Midwest Archaeological Conference in Mankato, Minnesota. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR Technological Choice in Pottery Production at Wickliffe Mounds, Kentucky  Anthony P. Farace  Institute of Archaeology, University College London, Bloomsbury, London, UK, NW6 1RZ  Department of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis, Saint Louis, MO, USA, 61303 (anthonypfarace@gmail.com)   ______________________________________________________________________________ Abstract Very few studies have documented the steps of pottery production within the Mississippian Midwest. The following project describes the chaîne opératoire   of ceramic production at Wickliffe Mounds, Kentucky using visual thin section petrography. The analysis focuses on the interpretation of raw material acquisition, the processing of raw materials, the preparation of  pastes, vessel formation, finishing and decorating, and firing conditions. The project also yields information on the similarity of methods used across the Midwest and Southeast and helps with the determination of local and non-local vessels through the petrographic identification of fabric groups.  ______________________________________________________________________________ Pottery Production and Wickliffe Mounds Little work has been done to reconstruct how vessels are produced within the Ohio-Mississippi confluence region. Through a combination of scientific analyses and anthropological theory, the study of  pottery in this region can help archaeologists reconstruct the chaîne opératoire and the technological choices made by potters. By establishing what techniques are used regionally, archaeologists can determine if common steps are employed, yielding information on group learning and the overall organization of craft production. Studying clay inclusions within the pottery and the local geology of a site can help determine the  provenance of vessels. Knowing what is local and what is nonlocal at a given site can help archaeologists ask questions about the trade and exchange of certain type-varieties and  possible migration of peoples. Using thin section petrography and supplemental Scanning Electron Microscope- EDS, this  project defines the paste of ceramics from Wickliffe Mounds, KY, producing evidence for production methods and gaining comparable minerology for determining  provenance. [Slide 2]  The Wickliffe site, a Mississippian village dating from 1100 to 1350 AD, is positioned on the bluffs overlooking the confluence of two major  North American waterways, the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Excavations from the Wickliffe site in Ballard County, KY have  Farace, Anthony P., 2019. Technological Choice in Pottery Production at Wickliffe Mounds, Kentucky. Paper presented at the 63 rd  annual Midwest Archaeological Conference in Mankato, Minnesota. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR  produced a wide range of ceramics one would expect from the confluence region and the greater Lower Mississippi Valley. Ceramic type-variety designations included in this study range from common Mississippi Plain sherds, Wickliffe Thick, and Kimmswick Fabric Impressed to more uncommon types such as Red-Filmed, Nashville Negative (black-on-bluff designs), Cahokia Cordmarked, and Ramey Incised types. Types such as Ramey Incised and Cahokia Cord Marked have been questioned by Wesler (2001) as to if they represent imports or local productions of the ceramic types. The Ramey Incised sherd from Mound B was determined by Holley and Wesler (Holley cited in Wesler 2001: 65) to likely be a local copy because of its paste differences from those found in the American Bottom near Cahokia. This case will be addressed further in the presentation. Thin-Section Petrography [Slide 3] Thin sections of sixty ceramics were produced in order to be analyzed under a polarizing light microscope at the Wolfson Archaeological Laboratories at the University College London. Of each type-variety at least 5 of each was selected for analysis if available. Small chips were taken from each sherd and ground down to 30 microns in order to achieve standard interference colors. [Slide 4]  Colors and structure of inclusions are examined in Plain Polarized Light or PPL and in Crossed Polarized Light or XP. Optical Activity is also observed and is defined as the minerals going in and out of extinction, or dark to light colors. Each sherd was then grouped visually employing an examination of the matrix, voids, non-plastic inclusions, and other variables (Quinn 2013). Aspects of ceramic technology were also described upon examination of the thin sections. Using methodology described by Quinn (2013), Rice (2005), and Maritain et al. (2007),  production methods describing the raw material processing, forming methods, finishing techniques, drying, and firing can  be inferred. [Slide 5]  Several sherds were also analyzed under a scanning electron microscope for chemical characterization and imaging. Fabric Grouping and Raw Material Determination Visual Petrographic Groups Six distinct petrographic groups were formed. [Slide 6]  The first and most abundant fabric group is the Mussel Shell and Grog fabric group. This group is dominated by elongate shell inclusions and grog. The shell inclusions are colored grayish brown, grey, and dark grey to black in PPL with not much change in XP. The shell varies in size from 0.1 to 2.0 mm. There are clearly two modes of shell size across the group with one group having more fragmented shell and some with large elongate shell inclusions. The grog found within this group is also diverse showing shades of light to dark brown in XP and similar shades in PPL. The grog more commonly contains shell inclusions but can also include medium silt sized grains of quartz. The coarse fraction also includes, in some samples, dark red to black opaque inclusions that sometimes include silt-sized quartz. These are likely iron-rich inclusions due to their dark color in PPL and XP. [Slide 7]  The next group is the Shell with Silt fabric group made up of fourteen samples. The group is characterized with elongate shell similar to the previous group. However, the majority of this group has large  Farace, Anthony P., 2019. Technological Choice in Pottery Production at Wickliffe Mounds, Kentucky. Paper presented at the 63 rd  annual Midwest Archaeological Conference in Mankato, Minnesota. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR angular elongate shell (2.0-0.5 mm) that occurs more frequently in samples. The fine fraction includes few, fine sand-sized quartz. Medium, sand-sized Grog is also found in a very rare frequency only occurring in a few sherds. These inclusions are usually located on the edge of the thin section possibly contamination from where the pottery was formed. On some mold made vessels this could represent a finely crushed clay or grog is used as a parting agent. Many of these sherds with this feature are classified as Kimmswick Fabric Impressed. The fine fraction also includes very rare rock fragments of quartzite. [Slide 8]  Eight samples were categorized into the third group, the Shell Tempered Fabric group (Figure 5.8). The Shell fabric group is defined by shell being the dominate inclusion with a clean clay base with very few mineral inclusions. The shell in this group has two modes of grain size. They are either elongate shell or shell that is finely fragmented. In few samples the fine fraction includes a small amount of medium to coarse quartz inclusions that occur at a rare to very rare frequency. Along with quartz inclusions, few samples have opaque inclusion of a dark red to black color. Many of the sherds have a moderate optical activity. [Slide 9]  The fourth fabric group is the Grog Tempered Fabric group. Like the  previous group, the clay is very clean with few mineral inclusions and is mainly characterized by the grog inclusions added as temper. The grog occurs in different shades from yellowish-brown, dark brown, and reddish brown. The grog has sharp  boundaries with an equant shape. It has a variety of inclusions including shell (both elongate and finely crushed), quartz, and second-generation grog. This fabric group is composed of almost completely light grey clay with one sample colored grey. The core colors range from light grey to dark grey. The coarse fraction also includes dark red to black opaque inclusions that occur at a very rare frequency. It also includes rare shell inclusions likely added during the crushing of shell tempered grog. [Slide 10]  Two sherds make up the fifth fabric group, the Grog and Sand Tempered Fabric group. This is separated from the previous group due to the few to common frequency of very fine to fine sand grains. Due to the presence of these grains and their difference in modal size compared to the quartz silt in the samples, it is inferred that these larger quartz grains are added intentionally. The last petrographic fabric is represented by one sample and is labeled as the Shell and Sand Tempered fabric group. Like the previous group, this ceramic is thought to have had sand added deliberately also inferred from the grain size distribution. The section has a coarse fraction of large elongate shell pieces showing a greyish color in XP and PPL. The medium fraction is represented by very fine to fine sand grains of quartz. Reconstructing Aspects of Pottery Production  Raw Material Processing [Slide 11]  The main raw material used at Wickliffe is likely a non-calcareous clay coming from the Claiborne Formation in western Kentucky. The Claiborne Formation in this area matches the silt and ferrous inclusions, and clay colors. Descriptions of the clay in situ, shows that the clay naturally has large impurities consisting of organic matter, rock fragments, and smaller mineral  Farace, Anthony P., 2019. Technological Choice in Pottery Production at Wickliffe Mounds, Kentucky. Paper presented at the 63 rd  annual Midwest Archaeological Conference in Mankato, Minnesota. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR inclusions. The clean clay base found in most of the thin sections suggests that the clay is likely processed in order to remove these impurities. Evidence suggests that the clay was crushed and rehydrated. Imaging from thin-section petrography and imaging and characterization from SEM-EDS shows that many un-hydrated clay pellets are still visible with clear boundaries in the sherds. Many of the ceramic thin sections also have elongate  parallel cracks formed. These cracks occur  because of uneven drying from the lack of voids for water to travel through. Preparation of Pastes [Slide 12]  The six petrographic fabric groups also represent six different recipes using three to four distinct base clay variations mixed with either shell, grog, sand, or a combination. Evidence of clay mixing is represented in several of the thin sections. The variegated clay seen in the top image shows diffuse boundaries and an irregular form suggesting that this was added when wet (Quinn 2013, 168-169). Vessel Formation [Slide 13]  When physical forces are applied to a plastic clay body, changes in the ceramic microstructure occur. Shaping with a hand or tool may cause the alignment of inclusions and voids within the sherd. These alignments make it able to infer formation methods depending on the positioning of inclusions. Common in new world  prehistoric ceramics, the main forming method observed is coiling. Relic coils can be observed in thin section due to the  positioning of temper (most notably elongated shell) and voids. Two examples are  presented here. Coiling was also shown during macroscopic inspection. Sherds of Mississippian Plain and Wickliffe Thick varieties have viable raises/bumps that are left from partially smoothed coils. [Slide 14]  Sherds also show preferential breaks along the coil joins. While Wickliffe thick sherds show relic coils as far up as the rim, [Slide 15]  Mississippian Plain rims show a combination of techniques such as a coil- built body and a drawn and folded rim. Drawn rims show a vertical alignment of inclusions while folded rims show a cresent shaped alignment. Kimmswick Fabric Impressed rims have no common alignment of inclusions indicating they are slab made. Vessel Finishing and Decoration Though many of the vessels show evidence of coiling, they also exhibit evidence of scraping to reduce the pot to a desired thickness. This is a problem that Steponitis also encountered with his 1983 work on Moundville ceramics. Macroscopically, several sherds were identified as slipped or painted. These sherds were examined under a Scanning Electron Microscope in order to characterize the slip or paint. Many of the slips and body contained identical chemical spectra. [Slide 17] Some of the sherds analyzed showed signs of wiping with a wet tool creating a self slip or possibly a very thin layer of slip, shown here. One painted sherd was selected for analysis using the QuantMap function and AZtec software. [Slide 18]  This created elemental maps of the sherd to show the  Farace, Anthony P., 2019. Technological Choice in Pottery Production at Wickliffe Mounds, Kentucky. Paper presented at the 63 rd  annual Midwest Archaeological Conference in Mankato, Minnesota. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR difference in composition between the paint and the ceramic body. This revealed nothing surprising or abnormal. Comparing the elemental maps with the grains within the  paint, it was determined that the white paint was created using a very thin clay binder and a finely crushed quartz. The black stripes yielded low elemental totals when analyzed, suggesting the black paint stripes are carbon  based. Similar results were documented for the Nashville Negative sherds with low totals on areas of black pigment, suggesting a carbon-based source. Firing Conditions [Slide 19]  Birefringence can be an indicator of firing temperature as pottery loses the trait around 800 Celsius (Quinn 2013:191). Almost all of the ceramics retain their optical activity meaning the firing temperature is less than 800 C. Many of the sherds shows signs of the start of calcite digenesis in the shell and other calcareous materials. This takes place from 650-750 C (Quinn 2013:191; Rice 2015:115). Many of the shell inclusions within fabric groups seem to have been transformed into calcite. This starts at 400 C and completes around 500 C (Martain et al.2007). Most of the sherds in the research assemblage have a strong margin indicating that they were fired in an oxidizing atmosphere. This evidence suggests firing temperature is between 650-800 Celsius. Since most pottery was likely fired over an open fire, this is a reasonable estimate of temperature and environment. Some Discussion and Conclusion [Slide 20]  When compared to local  bedrock geology and descriptions of local clays in the region, a large portion of the vessels at Wickliffe Mounds match mineralogically to the Claiborne and Peoria Loess outcroppings near the site.  The Cahokia Cordmarked vessel is likely a local vessel  because it belongs to the Silty Shell Fabric group. [Slide 21]   The Ramey Incised sherd’s variability is not explained by the petrographic fabric groups and the local geology. The sherd was subject to extreme refinement of the paste  before shell was added or utilized a clay source that was already clean when collected. The temper of the Ramey Incised sherd is very fine without many large pieces of shell, different than every other shell tempered sherd from this analysis. There are no visible minerals within the ceramic body besides few rock fragments of quartzite. The color of the clay from the group of  Nashville Negative sherds seems to suggest another source of clay that was local to Wickliffe used in the Shell and Grog Tempered group. The Old Town Red sherds are likely made locally because the Shell and Grog Tempered fabric group matched the clay found in the Claiborne formation. It is important to keep in mind that just  because some of these samples do not fit completely into the fabric groups does not mean that they are necessarily non-local. What it does mean is that there is no comparable clay source for those thin sections. This does raise the likelihood of a foreign object, but it is just as likely that the peoples inhabiting Wickliffe utilized other sources that have not been described in detail by the US Geological Survey. The research shows that some type-varieties and corresponding vessel forms have a certain way that they are formed compared to others. For example, some Mississippian Plain jars are formed using a small coiling technique still visible despite scraping of the vessel walls and use a drawing and folding method to form the rim. In contrast, Wickliffe Thick funnels are all made using large coils that complete the vessel and are smoothed my hand or using a tool.
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