Wilmington Fabric Impressed

from David Anderson's type description


The type Wilmington Fabric Impressed was first defined by Anderson et al. (1987: 271-275) based on a sample of 235 sherds from the Mattassee Lake sites on the lower Santee River. The presence of fabric marked pottery within the Wilmington series had been previously observed by Caldwell and McCann during their analysis of materials from the Walthour site near Savannah (as reported in DePratter 1991:34-35). In revised sequence for the north Georgia coast (DePratter 1991:11, 35), the type Wilmington Fabric Marked was placed in the Late Woodland era and dated to between AD 600 -1000, and interpreted as the first introduction of fabric marking into the area. Waring (1968: 220) had earlier included a Wilmington Net-Impressed type in his formulation of the mouth-of-the-Savannah sequence, occumng throughout the period Wilmington pottery was made; this type is not included in (1979:111, 1991:ll) reformulation, where it appears to have been replaced by Wilmington Fabric Marked. A clay/grog tempered net impressed ware is reported from the mouth-of-the-Savannah sequence, however, St. Catherines Net Marked (DePratter 1979: 131 -132, 1991::11, 182).

The Mattassee Lake type sample was dominated by poorly defined, or "loose" weave fabric impressions, where both the warp and weft elements were pliable, although about one-quarter of the assemblage was characterized by a rigid warp element. Overstamping was fairly common, and about one-third of the sherds exhibiting a rigid warp element were cross stamped. The stamping is typically parallel, or at low angles to the rim, and is only rarely perpendicular (stamp orientation determined by the alignment of the warp element with the rim). The assemblage was dominated by reddish-yellow and reddish-brown interior and exterior colors. Temper density varies appreciably, and appears to constitute an appreciable portion of the paste (estimated at from 10 to 50 percent by volume). Quartz sand and other minor mineral inclusions are present in many sherds, although majority are virtually temperless (excluding, of course, the grog), with little or no sand evident. Interiors were poorly to well smoothed, and an appreciable minority of the sherds exhibit a lumpy, irregular surface with fine to coarse, wide scraping marks made with a comparatively soft implement while the paste was quite wet. As noted by South (1976: the "large lumps of temper result in a rough, lumpy surface" over the interior of many of the less carefully smoothed sherds; it should be stressed, however, that a majority of the interiors were well-smoothed. Rims were invariably straight to excurvate and rounded, unmodified lips were most common, although about one third of the lips were flattened and stamped with the fabric wrapped paddle. Several bases were recovered, and moderate sized conoidal jars roughly 40 cm in diameter at the rim, and having a capacity of from 10 to 15 liters. The Mattassee Lake material more closely resembles Hanover and Carteret assemblages from North Carolina than Wilmington and St. Catherines material from the mouth of the Savannah, particularly over rim form, lip shape, color, and interior finish.

Sorting Criteria

Fabric impressions applied over the exterior surface of the vessel while the paste was plastic; occasionally smoothed somewhat after stamping. The paste is characterized by crushed sherds or grog from 3 to 5 mm in maximum dimension, although larger inclusions up to 10.0 are sometimes noted. Rims straight to excurvate, typically rounded.


Wilmington Fabric Impressed occurs in the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina. From north of Charleston Harbor to the River, it is found both along the coast and in the interior to the Fall Line.

Chronological Position

North of Charleston Harbor: Early / Middle Woodland periods (500BC - 500AD). South of Charleston Harbor: 500AD-1000AD

Primary References

(1) Hanover: South (1960, 1976); Loftfield (1976; Carteret series); Phelps (1981); (2) Wilmington: Caldwell and Waring Caldwell (1952, 1971); Caldwell and McCann (1941); Waring DePratter (1979: 128-131; 1991).