Deptford Simple Stamped


The type Deptford Simple Stamped was originally defined by Caldwell and Waring in 1939, based on materials recovered from the Deptford site, and several other locations, in the vicinity of Savannah, Georgia (Caldwell and Waring 1939a). Like Deptford Linear Check Stamped, the ware has since been widely reported and described (e.g., Wauchope 1966:47-48; Willey 1949: 357-358; Griffin 1945:468; Griffin and Sears 1950; Anderson et al. 1979:153-155, 1982:281-285). A geographic range similar to that for Deptford Linear Check Stamped appears probable; like the linear check stamped finish, several regional simple stamped types have been recognized and named (e.g., Dunlap Simple Stamped, Mossy Oak Simple Stamped, Cartersville Simple Stamped, Pigeon Simple Stamped, Swannanoa Simple Stamped, etc.), each varying somewhat from the Deptford type, but all approximately temporally coeval. The differences between at least some of these types appear to be minor, and use of the type-variety system would probably be appropriate. Smith (1971:58-59) has proposed such a taxonomy, using Deptford Simple Stamped as the primary type, with several varieties subsumed under it (e.g., var. Mossy Oak, var. Cartersville). Type-variety classification has never caught on in the Carolinas, which is why this guide makes use of the binomial classification system. 

In the original mouth-of-the-Savannah ceramic sequence, formulated in the late 1930s, only one simple stamped type, Deptford Simple Stamped, was recognized (Caldwell and Waring 1939b). In 1947, Waring, working at the Refuge site (38JA5) in Jasper County, South Carolina, resolved a post-Stallings, pre-Deptford series of pottery, characterized by plain, simple stamped, punctated, and dentate stamped finishes which he classified as Refuge. The Refuge types were formally incorporated into the Savannah River sequence in a paper Waring (l968c) gave at the 1955 Southeastern Archeological Conference and have seen intermittent use since. Refuge Simple Stamped was separated from Deptford Simple Stamped primarily by quality of manufacture; the earlier (Refuge) type was characterized by a coarser, thicker paste, and sloppy, haphazard stamping (Waring 1968b:200). Intergradation between the types was noted, however, (e.g., Waring 1968b:200), rendering objective sorting difficult, and prompting some dissatisfaction among later researchers (e.g., DePratter 1976, 1979; Lepionka 1981; Trinkley 1980a; see also Background discussions for Refuge Simple Stamped). To resolve this ambiguity, DePratter (1979:121-122) combined the Refuge and Deptford simple stamped wares into a single type, Refuge Simple Stamped. The type Deptford Simple Stamped was abolished, and Refuge Simple Stamped became the only simple stamped type recognized in the mouth-of-the-Savannah sequence. 

Research conducted along the middle Savannah River have demonstrated that it is possible to sort Refuge from Deptford Simple Stamped pottery on an assemblage basis, and over many individual specimens, using stamped size, shape, application, and orientation attributes (Anderson 1988; Sassaman and Anderson 1990; Sassaman 1993b; see also background discussion for Refuge Simple Stamped). The differences between these varieties remain those noted by Waring (l968b:200), and as briefly described by DePratter (1979:121-122). In general, the earlier variety is characterized by coarser paste and sloppier execution and (typically) a hemispherical vessel form, while the later variety is better made with (typically) a conoidal jar slope. Deptford Simple Stamped is characterized by carefully executed and applied, parallel U-shaped simple stamp impressions, although cross stamping and less carefully executed impressions (with both U- and V-shaped grooves) are a distinct minority in assemblages. The impressions are typically closely spaced and carefully applied, although care in execution may vary considerably. Simple stamped vessels are occasionally lightly to extensively smoothed after stamping. Simple stamping also characterizes Thom's Creek and Refuge Simple Stamped, although on these wares the stamping typically exhibits a greater range of execution, from careful to careless, and greater variation in the distances between individual impressions. Tetrapods are extremely rare in Deptford assemblages in the South Carolina Coastal Plain (Anderson et al. 1979:82), although they are common in Piedmont Cartersville assemblages from the upper Savannah River and to the west (Anderson and Joseph 1988).

At Mattassee Lake along the lower Santee cross-stamped Deptford Simple Stamped sherds tended to exhibit narrower impressions and occur somewhat later than parallel stamped material, at least in the 38BK226 block, suggesting some intergradation, or development into the Santee Simple Stamped type. At Mattassee Lake the exterior finish is typically applied parallel or at low angles to the rim, however, in marked contrast to the stamping on the Santee Simple Stamped type, which is commonly perpendicular or at high angles (i.e. near perpendicular) to the rim.

Sorting Criteria

Parallel longitudinal U-shaped grooves over the exterior vessel surface; occasionally lightly to extensively smoothed after stamping. Stamping (typically) parallel, overstamping or cross stamping less common. Impressions typically narrow (about 2.0 mm), shallow (0.5-2.0 mm), and carefully applied. Lip treatment (stamping or incising) common. Paste and interior finish identical to that for Deptford Linear Check Stamped. May be confused with Thom's Creek Simple Stamped, Refuge Simple Stamped, and Santee Simple Stamped on individual sherds.


Throughout the Coastal Plain and Fall Line areas of South Carolina and into extreme southeastern North Carolina. Increasingly infrequent northeast of the Santee River drainage; only rarely noted in North Carolina. 

Chronological Position

Early/Middle Woodland periods (ca. 600 BC - AD 500).

Primary References

Caldwell and Waring (1939a, 1939b); Griffin (1945), Griffin and Sears (1950); Caldwell (1952, 1958, 1971); Wauchope (1966); Waring (1955; 1968b, 1968c); Williams (1968); Waring and Holder (1968); Stoltman (1974); Anderson et al. (1979:153-155, 1982:281-285).