Refuge Dentate Stamped

temperless, exterior viewtemperless, interior viewtemperless

from David Anderson's Refuge Type Descriptions


Descriptions of Refuge Dentate Stamped have been offered by Waring (1968b:200), Peterson (1971a:126-127), DePratter (1979:122-123), and Lepionka (n.d.), based on materials recovered from along the lower Savannah River, and by Anderson et al. (1982:264-268), based on materials from the lower Santee. The ware is characterized by (typically) linear arrays of small rectangular impressions, or dentates, that appear to have been applied with a toothed comb, roulette, or cog rocker. The type is very similar to Wheeler Dentate Stamped (Sears and Griffin 1950), and an origin from this interior, fiber tempered series is possible. Dentate stamping has been noted at a number of sites from eastern Georgia to southeastern North Carolina, and at present the finish is the only unambiguous referent or diagnostic for identifying Refuge components. There is some evidence from the original Refuge site excavations (Waring 1968b:206) and from the Second Refuge site (Lepionka 1980, 1981, n.d.), and from Groton Plantation (Peterson 1971b:77), that dentate stamping occurs only during the early part of the Refuge phase.

Sorting criteria

Linear arrays of small rectangular impressions, or dentates; geometric arrangements (usually forming triangles) or random impressions less common. Paste ranges from appreciable sand to temperless to tempered with small (0.5-2.0 mm) lumps of aplastic clay (grog). Both interior and exterior surfaces are well smoothed with stamping (typically) oriented obliquely with respect to the rim on the exterior. Isolated single and double rows of dentates predominate, although a minority of sherds exhibit stamping over their entire surface. Cross-stamping, creating overlapping diamonds or triangles, was also noted on several sherds; the design occurs around the vessel rim in a few cases. Flat, excurvate rims are ubiquitous; lips are typically undecorated.


Found throughout the Coastal Plain of eastern Georgia, South Carolina, and into southeastern North Carolina; the greatest incidence of type appears to be along the Santee River. More common in the lower Coastal Plain, the type is rarely noted above the Fall Line. The ware is uncommon northeast of the Black River drainage and southwest of the Savannah. Refuge Dentate Stamped with grog tempered paste occurs primarily near the lower Santee River; Refuge ceramics along the Savannah River are characterized by sand tempered paste. Cylindrical, rounded bottom, slightly flaring jars or bowls from 30 to 40 cm in diameter are indicated.

Chronological Position

Early Woodland period (1000-600BC). Two radiocarbon dates from the lower Savannah River unambiguously date the ware to about 1000BC: 970±200 BC (M267; Williams 1968:329) and 920BC±110 (GX01752; Peterson 1971a:249). Two additional dates, from the second Refuge site (Lepionka 1981a:76), both support this early date, and suggest that the Refuge Phase lasted for several hundred years (1070 BC±115, QC-784; 510 BC±110, QC785). At Mattassee Lake Refuge Dentate Stamped stratigraphically postdates both Thom's Creek and Refuge Punctate types and is slightly earlier than Deptford. At Minim Island Refuge and Thom’s Creek wares appear to have co-occurred for at least part of their range.