Ceramic vessels from ancestral Caddo sites in East Texas are diverse in form, size, manufacture, and decoration, both spatially and temporally. Variation in these attributes, including vessel form as well as any attachments, also “is connected with particular local and regional traditions” (Brown 1996:335). To both appreciate and understand the meaning of vessel form diversity in Caddo vessel assemblages in East Texas—or any other part of the much larger southern Caddo area—the consistent identification of different vessel forms and vessel shapes is crucial. The formal identification of the diverse vessel forms and vessel shapes, in conjunction with other vessel attributes, most notably decorative motifs and elements, present in Caddo vessel assemblages should contribute to delimiting the existence and spatial distribution of communities of Caddo potters that were sharing or not sharing ceramic practices and traditions in both short-term and long-term spatial scales, and illuminating small or expansive networks of social groups tied together through regional interaction.

In this study, the focus is on ceramic effigy vessels from Caddo sites in East Texas that are in the collections at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin (TARL). Ceramic effigy vessels are a very rare vessel form found on Caddo sites, as they comprise about 1 percent of the more than 3100 Caddo vessels currently in the TARL collections.

Three different effigy bowl shapes have been identified in East Texas Caddo vessel assemblages. The differences primarily resolve around the character of the effigy head (both bird and abstract forms) as well as the nature of any other appendages, such as tab tails and tail riders. The effigy bowls themselves are simple in form, with rounded body wall contours.

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