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Caddo Archeology Journal

Abstract

Caddo ceramics served many purposes, including cooking, storage, and the serving of foods and liquids. The various forms and shapes of these vessels were subject to the ideas of the potters themselves and the larger community of which they were a part. Products of human behavior reflect conscious and predictable actions that can be identified and measured in time and space. Artifacts are “embodiments of human behavior” (White 1959:232-233).

The various elements that make up an artifact are termed attributes. Certain attributes that reflect customary usage or current fashion are termed nodes. Irving Rouse describes a mode as “any standard, concept, or custom which governs the behavior of the artisans of a community, which they hand down from generation to generation over considerable distances” (Rouse 1960:109). The particular artifact that is the main focus of consideration in this article is a unique prehistoric Caddo ceramic rim mode defined as the Redwine or “pie-crust” mode. We also discuss the related Myers mode or “sprocket-rim” that is another particular form of rim identified in prehistoric Caddo sites.

We examine specific Caddo ceramic vessels from East Texas sites, almost all of which date to the Middle Caddo period (ca. A.D. 1200-1400), and in particular one unique attribute found on those vessels, to hopefully better understand prehistoric Caddo communities and their interaction. The Middle Caddo period in East Texas was dynamic in terms of the artistic ceramic artifacts characteristic of the period. Different but contemporaneous groups were experimenting with new forms of ceramic vessels as well as how they chose to decorate their vessels, as exemplified by the appearance of the engraved canebrake rattlesnake motif on fine ware vessels (Walters 2006:5-40). These vessel forms and designs became established patterns and through contact and interaction, movement of people, and/or the sharing and adoption of ideas, they spread to other groups. In the study of Caddo archeology, we are very fortunate that the Caddo potters left an extensive ceramic record that is very rich in its stylistic diversity. By studying the ties between different but contemporaneous groups of people through the similarities and differences in ceramic styles, attributes, modes, and techniques, we can arrive at a better understanding of how these diverse groups interacted with each other. It is becoming increasingly evident that ceramic vessels were widely traded amongst widelyspaced Caddo groups, and that some kinds of ceramic vessels (such as the Redwine mode vessels or other distinctive forms) were an important indication of the existence of exchange relationships, or special bonds and alliances, between groups.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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