Pottery making on the North American continent, north of the Rio Grande, began somewhere in coastal South Carolina, Georgia, or Florida between about 4,500 and 5,000 years ago. Over the course of the next 1,000 years, the practice spread up the eastern seaboard and into the interior. Traditional pottery making continues even today, though on a much smaller scale.

Measured in centuries, many changes in technology and style took place. However, individual potters, for the most part, stuck to their tried and true recipes for paste, manufacturing techniques, and surface treatments. This combination of change and tradition allows pottery to serve as a time-marker for archaeologists.

The Guide to Native American Pottery of South Carolina is intended as an online reference to the potting practices and ceramic types of South Carolina. Comments are enabled so that researchers can share and discuss current thoughts. We hope you find it useful!

Basic Ceramic Chronology for South Carolina
Ware, Series, or Type Period Date
Fiber Tempered Ware/Stallings Early Period 3000-1000BC
Early Plain/Hand Decorated (punctate/incised) Early Period 2800-700BC
Check Stamped Middle Period 500BC-500AD
Cord/Fabric Marked/Textile Group Middle Period 500BC+
Complicated Stamped Late Period 1000AD+
Burnished and Incised Late/Historic Period 1300AD+

The above table provides a chronological snapshot of pottery in South Carolina and an overarching organization for the website. The Early Period Wares tended to be plain or hand decorated. During the Middle Period ceramics marked with various textiles were tempered with lithic and clay materials. Paddle stamping was never completely abandoned, but beginning around 1,000AD complicated stamped wares were being made, some of which had hand decorations as well. One thing that is clear is that there is no one-size-fits-all way of grouping things, as plain and hand decorated ceramics, for instance, reappear strongly in the Late Period.