Overview of Research in South Carolina

Although researchers had visited the state before, and even defined some pottery types that are still recognizable today, for our purposes pottery research in South Carolina began with Stanley South's 1960 survey of the coast around Wilmington, NC. This was revised in the 1970s (South 1976).

At about the same time as South's 1976 revision a young researcher was looking at the pottery collections housed by the still young Institute of Archaeology at USC. David Anderson expanded South's sampling universe to include the entire Coastal Plain (Anderson 1975). The work evolved over time (Anderson 1976), with a revision in 1982 (Anderson et al 1982), and its inclusion in the prodeedings of the 1995 COSCAPA pottery symposium (Anderson et al 1996).

Another symposium was held in 1982. The Archaeological Society of South Carolina published some of the papers the following year (Neighbors, ed 1983).

Although there are a few studies of particular sites (and site groups) that address pottery in detail, and which serve as important references, it is important to note that virtually all of the important work on pottery has been done in a CRM framework. David Anderson's 1975-1976 work and Ken Sassaman's dissertation research were financed by the CRM program at the Savannah River Site. Anderson's 1982 work was done in advance of a major Corps of Engineers Project. Larry Lepionka's (in Neighbors ed 1983) work at the second Refuge site was a result of a US Fish and Wildlife Service contract. The work at Minim Island (Drucker and Jackson 1983; Espenshade and Brockington 1989) was a Corps of Engineer's project. All of John Cable's work has been done under various contracts.

In doing background research for this project, which is also being done under a CRM contract, by the way, it became clear pretty quickly that with only a few exceptions CRM archaeologists have not been making significant advances in our understanding of South Carolina's pottery and its makers. Archaeology conducted as a business is as variable as the free market system will allow. Although many CRM firms are owned by dedicated researchers, others are small cogs in multinational engineering firms. Often principal investigators are sent in with no experience in the state at all, while even those who are trained in state have lacked strong leadership in this area. For the most part everyone relies on established type definitions and lets it go at that.

To a degree John Cable has been the biggest exception. He has developed a multivariate analysis procedure that allows some degree of science to creep in to the discussion of pottery and has consistently pursued it for over 30 years. Chris Espenshade has also made a good contribution, both with his work in the state, and his influence on the lab procedures taken by Brockington and Associates.

Hopefully the present effort will allow for some progress. The literature of pottery in South Carolina is almost entirely "gray." As a result many important sources are not available to interested students and researchers from outside, unless they can find a tattered copy to borrow. To help alleviate this problem many interesting reports and papers are available under references.

Major Ware Groups by River Drainage / Region
Drainage/Type Pee Dee Santee Savannah Appalachian South Coastal North Coastal
Refuge   Y Y   Y Y
Cape Fear* Y Y ?   ? Y
St Catherines     Y   Y  
Pisgah       Y    
Catawba***** Y Y   Y   Y
Stallings Y Y Y Y Y Y
Hamps Landing Y         Y
New River* Y ? ?   ? Y
Deptford Y Y Y   Y Y
Yadkin Y Y        
Cape Fear* Y Y ?   ? Y
Connestee     Y Y    
Swannannoa     Y Y    
Hanover** Y Y Y   Y Y
St. Catherines     Y   Y  
Savannah Y Y Y   Y Y
Pee Dee Y Y Y Y Y Y
Irene*** Y Y Y Y Y Y
Pisgah       Y    
Qualla       Y    
York**** Y Y Y   Y Y
Altamaha Y          
Catawba***** Y Y   Y   Y

*= New River and Cape Fear as defined by Herbert (2009) to include Deep Creek and Mt. Pleasant

**= Conflates Hanover and Wilmington

***= Conflates Irene, Lamar

****= Conflates Ashley, Jeremy, Wachesaw, Daniel Phase Pee Dee and other historic wares.a

*****= As described by Riggs et al 2008.

?= Pottery with this type description is found in the drainage, but it is unclear whether it should be considered this series.