ALABAMA INCISED POTTERY

 

It is our hope that the pictures and descriptions in this section will assist you in discovering the identity of your pottery sherds and the history behind them.  If you are unable to identify your finds from this list, please feel free to contact me (Lloyd Schroder - see CONTACT US) with pictures of your discoveries and information regarding their general location.  The pictures should include a clear picture of surface decoration, rim structure (if possible), the interior of the vessel, and a cross-section of the sherd.  I will make every effort to respond as quickly as possible to your requests.

FOR MORE DETAILED INFORMATION

For more detailed information on these and other pottery types within the Southeastern United States, please see our "Publications" page to order Lloyd Schroder's Field Guide to Southeastern Indian Pottery.

 

ALEXANDER INCISED

 

 

 

Research: Hollingsworth, Alabama Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 37, 1991

Site & location: Sheep’s Bluff Shelter, Franklin Co, Alabama  Also found at the McVay Village site in Clarke County, Alabama.

Temper: sand

Surface decoration: curvilinear and rectilinear incising that may be zoned, one or more nodes placed just above a series of incised horizontal lines

Vessel form: Sherds at the McVey Village site indicate medium-sized deep bowl or open-mouthed jar.

Chronology: Griffin’s Late Gulf Formational stage in northwest Alabama 500 BC to 100 BC

Distribution: Middle Tennessee River valley of northern Alabama Wheeler Reservoir area


BASIN BAYOU INCISED

RESEARCH: Gordon R. Willey (1949)[i] named the type, believing that the variance with Marksville ceramics warranted a separate type name.

SITE & LOCATION: Willey's research was done on sites along the Northwest Florida Coast.

TEMPER: Fine sand is normally used as temper, but some clay was also used. The paste color is often gray-buff, buff-white or red.

DECORATION: The surface is smoothed to low polish.  Rectilinear and curvilinear motifs or a combination of both were used in arrangements of parallel, diagonal lines, concentric rectangles, triangles, meandering scrolls, and complex, highly stylized life figures.  Deep hemi-conical terminal punctations or pits mark the ends of lines.  Rims are nearly always set off from the area of decoration by single bordering incised line a centimeter or so below the opening. Rims are incurved with and without an exterior marginal fold or thickening.  Rims can also be straight or slightly out-slanted without a marginal fold. Lips are scalloped or notched, round-flat, round-pointed, and flat. The base is round, flat and circular, or flat and square.

VESSEL FORMS: Known forms include flattened globular bowls, long collared jars, and cylindrical or squared beakers.

CHRONOLOGY: Willey believed this type was related to Middle Woodland period Santa Rosa Swift Creek pottery.

 

GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION: Basin Bayou pottery is common on the northwest coast of Florida, but is also found along the west coast of Florida along the Tombigbee River in Mobile and Clarke counties, Alabama.

 



[i] Willey, Gordon R., Archaeology of the Florida Gulf Coast, Bureau of American Ethnology Smithsonian Institution, 1949, p.375

 

 

BEAR CREEK INCISED

 

 

RESEARCH: David W. Chase defined this type in 1968. Chase, David W. New Pottery Types From Central Alabama, SEAC Bulletin 5, p. 42

SITE & LOCATION: Chase did research on sites near Montgomery in central Alabama.

TEMPER: This is a grit-tempered ware with a surface that is often burnished inside and out. The paste color is buff or gray.

SURFACE DECORATION: Decoration on this type appears as stab-and-drag punctation with a blunt tool that creates lines that are parallel or diagonal to the lip. Some singular punctations may also appear as part of the design.

VESSEL FORM: Recovered sherds suggest that the vessel form was a globular bowl with a rounded bottom and inverted rim with a rounded lip.

CHRONOLOGY: Chase believed this type to belong to the Late Woodland period in central Alabama.

GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION: This type is probably limited to central Alabama.

 

 

 

BELDEAU INCISED


 

 

RESEARCH: This type was named by Steve Wimberly in 1960.[i]

SITE & LOCATION: Wimberly recovered this type at the Beckum Village site in Clarke County and at the Andrews’ Place Shell Midden site in Mobile County, Alabama.

TEMPER: Clay was used to temper this type.

SURFACE DECORATION: Thinly incised lines spaced 4 to 5 mm apart are crosshatched to form diamond shapes across the surface. Designs seem to cover the exterior of the vessel beginning at the rim.

VESSEL FORMS: Vessel forms are not mentioned, but rims seem to be simple and straight.

CHRONOLOGY: This type belongs to the Late Woodland Weeden Island period and the Coles Creek period of Louisiana.

GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION: Distribution for this type occurs from Louisiana to the Mobile Bay and north into the lower Tombigbee River system of Alabama.

 


[i] Wimberly, Steve B. Indian Pottery From Clarke County and Mobile County, Southern Alabama, University of Alabama, pp.70-71

 

 

CARRABELLE INCISED

 

RESEARCH: This type was named by Gordon Willey in 1949.[i]

SITE & LOCATION: Willey based his study on sites along the northwest Florida coast.

TEMPER: Fine sand with mica present in most of the past was used for tempering.

SURFACE DECORATION: Decoration consisted of medium and fine incised lines made on soft, unfired surfaces. Parallel incised lines were placed vertically or diagonally and arranged in simple rows, herringbone fashion, or in nested triangles. There is a variation of the latter where alternate triangles are filled with horizontally placed lines. Decoration is often set off, above and below, by incised lines. Decoration is usually confined to a band beneath the rim on the upper one third of the vessel. Sometimes on beaker forms, decoration extends from the rim to the base.

VESSEL FORMS: Known forms include flattened-globular bowls, collard globular bowls, simple and collard jars and beakers. Rims are in-curving, and direct or out-slanting. Exterior folds are common. When not folded, the rims may be slightly thickened.

 

CHRONOLOGY: Carrabelle Incised pottery is assigned to the Late Woodland, Weeden Island II period.

GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION: Carrabelle pottery is primarily found along the Florida golf Coast, but can also be found in southwestern and central Georgia and southern Alabama.

 



[i] Willey, Gordon R., Archaeology of the Florida Gulf Coast, Bureau of American Ethnology Smithsonian Institution, 1949, p.422

 

COLES CREEK INCISED


RESEARCH: Steve B. Wimberly discussed this type and the influence of the Coles Creek culture on the potters of the Tombigbee River valley in 1960.[i]

SITE & LOCATION: Wimberly recovered a single rim sherd from the Porter Village site and several from the Andrews Place Shell Midden site. research was in sites in Clarke and Mobile counties, Alabama.

TEMPER: Clay and fine sand was used as temper in the recovered by Wimberly.The surface of the sherds was gray and the core was dark gray.

SURFACE DECORATION: Decoration on the recovered sherd consisted of 27 incised lines encircling the upper portion of the vessel.Below this point the vessel appears to have been plain.Incising was fairly closely spaced and the lines were fine.

VESSEL FORMS: Sherds suggest that the vessels were deep and straight sided.The lip is round-pointed.




[i] Wimberly, Steve B. Indian Pottery From Clarke County and Mobile County, Southern Alabama, University of Alabama, p.147

 

 

D’OLIVE INCISED

 

 

RESEARCH: Dr Douglas Jones initially surveyed the Davison Creek site. A subsequent survey of recovered material by others was reported on by Amanda Regnier in 2010.

SITE & LOCATION: The Davison Creek Site is located in Monroe County, Alabama.

TEMPER: Like most other Mississippian pottery in the Southeast, this type was tempered with crushed shell with moderate inclusions of clay. The examples of this type from Mobile bay have only shell in them. Tempering material is probably one of the few differences between the grit-tempered Columbus Incised of the Middle Mississippian period and D’Olive Incised pottery.

SURFACE DECORATION: Decoration on this type consisted of a single incised line inside the interior rim of plates with primarily straight or diagonal rectilinear incised lines running from the single-line border toward the interior surface of the plate along the rim. Diagonal lines formed chevrons along this area. Sometimes these lines were zoned by single or double curvilinear lines with rectilinear lines used as fill. Incising on other vessel forms is suspected to be similar in design to these patterns of incising.

VESSEL FORMS: Known vessel forms include casuela bowls, cylindrical and sub-globular bowls, plates (see above) and globular jars.

 

 

 

 

CHRONOLOGY: This type is related to the Pensacola culture of the Late Mississippian period, dating between A.D. 1400 and 1550.

GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION: Dist-ribution for this type seems to center around central and southwestern Alabama.

 

 

 

Type name: Fort Walton Incised

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Type name: French Fork Incised

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INDIAN PASS INCISED

a. Florida Museum of Natural History, b. C.B. Moore

Temper: fine sand

Distribution: Florida Gulf Coast

Age: Weeden Island related (Willey), Late Woodland

Vessel forms: flattened-globular bowls, short collared jars, and tri-lobed jars all noted

Decoration: find to medium incised lines made on soft unfired clay. Closely spaced arrangement of lines giving almost a "combed" appearance in some cases. Designs are sweeping curvilinear loops, whorls, and straight-line herringbone arrangements. In the latter case the design is made up of a great many lines as opposed to the Carrabelle Incised type.

 

 

 

Type name: Keith Incised

Research: Dr Douglas Jones

Site & location: Davison Creek Site, Monroe County near Natchez

Temper: fine sand

Surface decoration:

Vessel form:

Chronology: Late Woodland Weeden Island (AD 200-900)

Distribution: South of Tampa Bay to Mobile Bay

 

 

MARKSVILLE INCISED

 


Research: Ford & Gordon R. Willey (1940), Described by Setzler (1933)

Site & location: Clarke County, Alabama sites

Temper: Clay and sand

Surface decoration: Finely incised chevrons in sets of 4 or more suspended from below a folded rim.  Curvilinear designs may appear below the chevrons for an undetermined distance down the sides of the vessel.

Vessel form: Unknown vessel forms with folded rims and rounded lips.

Chronology: Middle Woodland

Distribution: Louisiana, Mississippi, southeastern Alabama

 

 

Type name: Mazique Incised

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Type name: Mound Place Incised (both McMillan and Walton’s Camp varieties)

Research: Dr Douglas Jones

Site & location: Davison Creek Site, Monroe County near Natchez

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Chronology: Late Woodland Weeden Island (AD 200-900) and Pensacola culture (AD 1050-1550)

 

Type name: Moundville Filmed Engraved

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MOUNDVILLE INCISED

 

Sketches of the incised lines on the above collard jar

 

Research: Dr Douglas Jones

Site & location: Davison Creek Site, Monroe County near Natchez

Temper:

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Chronology: Late Woodland Weeden Island (AD 200-900)

 

OCMULGEE FIELDS INCISED

Ocmulgee National Monument

Temper: Grit, rarely crushed shell

Distribution: In Florida, North and Northwestern Florida near Georgia borders.

Age: Historic, Leon and Jefferson counties Leon-Jefferson period

Vessel forms: Casuela with in-curved rims and open bowls with out-flaring rims.

Decoration: Narrow incised lines which appear to have been partially smoothed over.  Designs are scrolls, guilloches, combined scrolls and straight lines, chevron elements, and horizontal lines parallel to lip.  Decoration confined to rim area of casuela forms or the upper and interior surfaces of flaring rims on open bowls.

 

PENSACOLA INCISED

 

Type name: Pensacola Incised (Gasque, Holmes, Pensacola, Matthew’s Landing, Jessamine and Rutherford sub-types

Research: Dr Douglas Jones, Gordon R. Willey (1949)

Site & location: Davison Creek Site, Monroe County near Natchez (the Bottle Creek site in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta is the cultural center of the Pensacola culture with 18 mounds

 

Distribution: Choctawhatchee Bay Florida to southern Louisiana and north to the Alabama river up the Tombigbee River to the lower Cahaba river.  In Florida it is found mainly in northwestern Florida, but extends to the east and south as a minority type.

Temper: crushed live shell. There is also a little sand and grit. Paste is sometimes compact; sometimes laminated and control. Paste core usually is gray and surfaces usually bluff or red-buff. In some cases pottery was fired gray-black throughout.

 

Age: Pensacola culture (AD 1250-1700), related to the Fort Walton period.

Vessel forms: comparable to those of the Fort Walton series. Rim was usually unmodified except for an occasional heavy, rounded exterior fold. Lips are range from flat to round-pointed. Basis were rounded. Appendages may be small vertical loop handles and ornamental notes beneath the rim.

Decoration: declaration about the same as for Walton incised except there seems to be a little more emphasis on incision with less punctuation. Some design suggestive of highly stylized "death's-head" motif.

 

PENSACOLA THREE-LINE INCISED

 

Temper: shell

Distribution: Western and of Northwest Florida and probably south and central Alabama. May extend to South Mississippi to merge with distribution of Natchez types.

Age: related to Fort Walton period, middle Mississippian period.

Vessel forms: comparable to Point Washington incised.

Decoration: Four incised lines (having three parallel strips between them).  Designs may be straight or curvilinear.  Designs parallel  Point Washington Incised designs, except that it is shell tempered.

 

PORTER ZONE INCISED


Research: Steve B. Wimberly (1960)

Site & location: Middle Woodland sites in Clarke County, Alabama

Temper: Sand or light clay (less clay content than Marksville Stamped)

Surface decoration: Predominantly curvilinear incising with a broad instrument with narrow, comb-like incising as a filler of designs.  Designs are loops, single scrolls, curvilinear meanders with lobed, triangular or circular background figures.  Punctations are also made with the incising tool.  Circular or triangular punctations sometimes end short incised lines.  Designs usually cover the entire vessel.

Vessel form: Small jars with moderately tall rims, beakers with vertical to straight out-slanting sides.  Globular bowls with vertical sides and a square opening.  Rims are straight to slightly out-slanting.  Lips are rounded or flat, bases are round or square and are flattened.

Chronology: Middle Woodland

Distribution: Southwestern Alabama

 

 

Type name: Sauty Incised

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TCHEFUNCTE INCISED


 

 

The above map is based on a map made by Louis D. Tesar for the Florida Bicentennial Commission published in 1979

Research: Steve Wimberly

Site & location: Bayou La Batre Shell Midden site, Mobile County, Alabama

Temper: Lumps of clay

Surface decoration: Sharply cut herringbone incising along a rounded rim strip that is 1.8cm wide that is underlined by an incised line that is V-shaped in cross-section.  Other examples have no rim strip, but forms a pseudo-rim with an incised line 3 cm below the lip.  Incising is done adjacent to the line encircling the rim and is rectilinear, being made up of parallel lines in triangular areas appended to it.  The incising is shallow, narrow and sharp, being spaced about 3 mm apart. 

Vessel form: Sherds suggest a deep bowl

Chronology: Early Woodland

Distribution: Southern Mississippi and the Mobile bay area of Alabama

 

WEEDEN ISLAND INCISED

 

 

 

Research: Dr Douglas Jones

Site & location: Davison Creek Site, Monroe County near Natchez

Temper: fine sand

Surface decoration: Incised lines consisting of curvilinear and rectilinear designs filled in with diagonal or cross hatched incised designs and fired with reduced oxygen atmosphere to produce a blackened exterior surface.

Vessel form: bowls with elaborate peaks known as castellation, effigies or nodes located along the rims, and decoration along the top of the rim.

Chronology: Late Woodland Weeden Island (AD 200-900)

Distribution: South of Tampa Bay to Mobile Bay