Journal of Northeast Texas Archaeology




The most distinctive material culture item of the ancestral Caddo groups that lived in East Texas from ca. A.D. 900 to the 1830s were the ceramics they manufactured primarily for cooking, storage, and serving needs. The decorative styles and vessels forms of the ceramics found at sites in the region hint at the variety, temporal span, and geographic extent of a number of ancestral Caddo groups that lived in this area. The diversity in decoration and shape of Caddo ceramics is considerable, both in the utility ware jars and bowls, as well as in the fine ware bottles, carinated bowls, and compound vessels. Ceramics are quite common in domestic contexts on habitation sites across the region, and whole vessels also occur as grave goods in mortuary contexts.

The Caddo manufactured ceramics in a wide variety of vessel shapes, and with an abundance of well-crafted and executed body and rim designs paired with smoothed, burnished, or polished surface treatments. From the archaeological contexts in which Caddo ceramics have been found, as well as through inferences about their manufacture and use, it is evident that ceramics were important to the ancestral Caddo in: the cooking and serving of foods and beverages, for the storage of foodstuffs, as personal possessions, as incense burners, as beautiful works of art and craftsmanship (i.e., some vessels were clearly made to never be used in domestic contexts), and as social identifiers. In the case of the later, certain shared and distinctive stylistic motifs and decorative patterns on ceramic vessels marked closely related communities and constituent groups.

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