Cord Marked Pottery

Illustrated Specimens

Potsherds (bottom right), Vessel 9, Vessel 27, and Vessel 28.

Sample Size

N=83 (including one whole vessel and two vessel sections).


83 specimens from Occaneechi features, no specimens from Feature 30 (Haw River phase).


Method of Manufacture: Coiling and use of a paddle-and-anvil technique.

Temper: Although a majority of sherds (86.8%) are tempered with fine sand, some sherds are tempered with fine crushed feldspar (9.6%), medium crushed quartz (2.4%), and mixed quartz and feldspar (1.2%).

Texture: Even and compact. Temper comprises 10-20% of the paste.

Hardness: 2.5-3.5.

Color: Exterior surfaces range in color from black (5YR 2/1) to yellowish red (5YR 4/8) to pink (5YR 8/4). Interior surfaces, usually smudged, range from black (7.5YR 2/0) to gray (7.5YR 5/0).

Surface Finish (Exterior)

The exterior surface has been stamped with a cord-wrapped paddle. Stamp impressions mostly represent moderately thick-to-fine (1.0-3.0 mm) Z-twisted cordage (88.0%) with the remainder representing S-twisted cordage (12.0%).

Surface Finish (Interior)

Almost 93.0% of the sherds have plain smoothed interiors; the remainder are scraped. The whole vessel (Vessel 9) is uniformly blackened on the interior while one of the vessel sections (Vessel 28) contains deposits of carbonized organic material along the interior neck area.


Decoration is rare and consists of oblique incisions along the lip (n=1), smoothing of the rim/lip edge (n=1), and parallel finger impressions along the neck (n=1). In addition, two neck sherds and one body sherd possess drilled mend holes.

Form (click to see vessel profiles)

Rim: Seven of the nine rimsherds are everted; one is inverted; and one is indeterminate.

Lip: Six rimsherds have flat lips while the remaining three are rounded.

Body: Only the whole vessel (Vessel 9) and one vessel section (Vessel 28) provided specific information about vessel shape. Vessel 9 is a shallow bowl with a rounded body while Vessel 28 is a straight-sided sub-conoidal jar which probably had a pointed base. Although no other shallow bowls like Vessel 9 were recovered, Vessel 28 is very similar in form to a Fredricks Plain jar (Vessel 30) recovered from the same feature (Feature 53).

Base: See Body discussion.

Thickness: 2-4 mm (12.0%), 4-6 mm (41.0%), 6-8 mm (43.4%), 8-10 mm (2.4%), >10 mm (1.2%).

Size: Vessel 9 is 19 cm in diameter and 10 cm high. Vessel 28 is 26 cm in diameter and approximately 22 cm high.


Cord-marked sherds, recovered exclusively from Occaneechi features, comprise only 2.2% of the total ceramic sample. Although their association with the historic occupation of the site was only predicted by previous ceramic analyses (see Davis 1987), this association has since been demonstrated through the occurrence of a whole vessel as a funerary object and the recovery of two other reconstructed vessel sections from feature contexts. Despite these contextual relationships, it appears unlikely that cord marking was an integral component of Occaneechi pottery-making. In addition to the aberrant vessel forms represented, almost half of the sherds recovered from features are from only two separate vessels. Both factors argue strongly that these vessels probably were introduced into the site's vessel assemblage by non-Occaneechi potters; however, no possible source areas can be suggested at present.