Thoms Creek Incised

from David Anderson's Thoms Creek Type Description


The type Thom's Creek Incised was formally defined by Phelps (1968:21), based on a sample of six sherds from the central Savannah River drainage. A second type description, based on a sample of 39 sherds from nine shell ring and midden sites, from the Sea Island area of South Carolina, has been presented by Trinkley (1976a, 1980b:16-17). Incising, by itself, appears to be a decidedly uncommon form of decoration, accounting for only 1.4 percent of the Thom's Creek sherds in Phelps (1968:20) sample, and less than half a percent of the sherds in Trinkley's (1980b: Figure 5).

The incidence of incising is only slightly higher in the coastal sample when its occurrence in combination with other decorative motif is included (0.61 percent; Trinkley 1980b:Figure 5). The ware would appear to be a distinct minority in local assemblages, and is only occasionally reported in descriptions of Thom's Creek ceramics (e.g., Trinkley 1981b:8). Edwards (1965:24) briefly noted the presence of a type he called "Awendaw Incised" at the Seewee shell ring (38CH45) in northern Charleston County. No formal type description was offered, however, and the type has become established within the Thom's Creek series.

Incising occurs infrequently on later period ceramics, in the Deptford series (e.g., Deptford Zoned-Incised Punctate, Anderson et al. (1979:140-141); Deptford Incised, Anderson et al. (1982:286-287), and in the Mississippian period (e.g., Irene Incised, Caldwell and Waring (1939). Waring (1968b: 200) briefly noted the presence of incising on a few sherds from the Refuge site (38JA5) on the lower Savannah River, and named the material Refuge Incised. A formal description for Refuge Incised was provided by DePratter (1979:121), who noted that the ware occurred only in the "earliest portion of the Refuge I phase," or from about 1100 to 1000BC A reexamination of the area around the Refuge type site resulted in additional description of Refuge Incised (Lepionka 1981). The ware is here identified and associated with the Thom's Creek series.

Incising appears to be a minority ware during the Late Archaic sand and fiber tempered pottery tradition. The finish is generally rare in the coastal plain of South Carolina; an examination of ceramics from 313 sites (Anderson 1975b; sample = 18,961 sherds) recorded only 93 incised sherds, from 44 sites. Only about half of these sherds appear to be Thom's Creek Incised; the remainder are either Stallings (N=14) or later, post-Thom's Creek wares. Thom's Creek Incised sherds can usually be readily sorted from later incised wares by paste, rim and lip form, and general surface finish.

Sorting Criteria

Fine incised lines typically arranged in rows parallel or at low angles to the rim; curvilinear and geometric designs, and incising perpendicular to the rim less common. The incisions are typically narrow (0.5-2.0 mm) and shallow (0.5-1.0 mm), and from well to poorly or haphazardly applied. Parallel lines predominate; geometric incising is much less common. Paste, general surface finish, and rim and lip similar or identical to that noted for Thom's Creek Reed Separate Punctate.


Poorly documented. Appears to occur throughout the Coastal Plain and Fall Line areas of South Carolina and adjoining portions of eastern Georgia and southwestern North Carolina. Like most of the Thom's Creek types, it is rare above the Fall Line.

Chronological Position

Late Archaic period, Thom's Creek Phase (2000BC 1000BC).

Primary References

Edwards (1965); Phelps (1968); Waring (1968b; Refuge Incised type); Trinkley (1976a, 1980a, 1980b, 1981b); DePratter (1976, 1979; Refuge Incised type); Lepionka (1980, 1981, n.d.; Refuge Incised type). Anderson et al. (1982: 263-264).