Journal of Northeast Texas Archaeology




Characterizing the mineralogical composition of ceramic vessels and sherds from Caddo sites in East Texas by means of petrographic analysis provides a unique opportunity to gather and investigate empirical evidence from ceramic vessels on: (1) technological and manufacturing practices, and (2) their trade and exchange at varying scales conducted by ancestral Caddo people with their neighbors, both near and far (i.e., other ancestral Caddo groups as well as non-Caddo communities). This evidence in turn can be used to explore changes in the nature of social and economic relationships between particular Caddo groups and other prehistoric populations. Identified compositional and paste differences that have been recognized between the different wares made by Caddo groups (i.e., plain wares, utility wares, and fine wares) can also be employed to explore functional and technological differences in vessel function and form.

It is important to build on existing petrographic studies of Caddo vessels and vessel sherds by examining unstudied assemblages to (1) better clarify the compositional nature of these ceramic wares across the Caddo temporal and geographic landscape; (2) to help pinpoint other ceramic manufacturing locales and mineralogical compositional groups, but also to assess their apparent technological complexity; and (3) lead to better evaluations of the regional character of prehistoric and historic Caddo trade and interaction networks that existed, and more definitively establish whether there were changes through time in the direction and intensity of local and long distance trade and interaction. The disparate pieces of information contained within the sherds and vessel fragments of Caddo ceramics found on many prehistoric and early historic sites throughout the region have the potential to address these questions and research issues, and can contribute unique information concerning those relationships that existed in the distant (and not-so-distant) past between Caddo farmers.

Twenty decorated sherds from the Musgano ceramic assemblage curated at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin (TARL) were selected for petrographic analysis. The sherds were split and one of the remaining fragments of each pair was used for the production of thin sections. Originally, the other half of each sherd was to be submitted for instrumental neutron activation analysis, but such analyses were not done; the remaining sherd fragment was returned for continued curation at TARL. Upon the receipt of the thin sections, they underwent petrographic analysis as reported on herein.

The 20 sherds include sherds from engraved fine wares (n=8, 40 percent)—bottles and carinated bowls— as well as sherds from utility wares (n=12, 60 percent). The utility wares have brushed-appliqued, incised, incised-punctated (from Maydelle Incised, Weches Fingernail Impressed, and Washington Square Paneled vessels), and punctated decorative elements. Ten percent of the sherds are from bone-tempered vessels, based on macroscopic examination, while the others are from grog-tempered vessels.

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



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