Thoms Creek Finger Pinched

from David Anderson's Thoms Creek Type Description


The type Awendaw Finger Pinched (reported here as Thom's Creek Finger Pinched) was formally defined by Trinkley (1976a, 1980b:13-14) based on a sample of 1095 sherds from 9 shell ring and midden sites from the Sea Island area of South Carolina. A second detailed description of Awendaw pottery, focusing in part on decorative variability, has been prepared by Michie (1979:40-44), based on materials from the Bass Pond shell midden (38CH124) on Kiawah Island, Charleston County, South Carolina. The diagnostic decorative motif, finger pinching, had been long noted by local archeologists (e.g. Williams 1968:331), but had not previously been incorporated into a formal type description.

The type Awendaw Punctate was provisionally established by Waddell (1965:82), who associated it with the Thom's Creek series. Waddell (1965:82) at that time noted that "a formal type description of Awendaw Punctate is (still) forthcoming." Waddell described the general physical characteristics of the ware, and documented its distribution in the Sea Island area from Beaufort to northern Charleston County. A brief description of "Awendaw Punctated" ware was also provided by Edwards (1965:24), based on materials recovered from the Sewee shell ring (38CH45) in northern Charleston County, South Carolina; this description subsumed both reed punctated and fingerpinched motifs, however, and was too brief and general to be of much use. Trinkley (1980a, 1980b) argues that Awendaw Finger Pinched is the latest (and last) decorative motif in the Thom's Creek series.

Like Thom's Creek Shell Punctate, Thom's Creek Finger Pinched pottery has only rarely been noted in the interior of the Coastal Plain. Fourteen sherds were found at Mattassee Lake, the first reported occurrence of the type along the Santee River, and the first occurrence noted well outside the immediate coastal area. The only other interior, non-shell midden site where Thom's Creek Finger Pinched pottery has been reported is at the Palm Tree site (38BK147) on the lower Cooper River drainage.

Sorting Criteria

Individual pinched impressions, typically placed in rows parallel to the rim; random pinching less common. Finger pinching may vary considerably in both size and depth of impression; shallow impressions may be indistinct, producing a ridged, or undulating appearance. Paste contains substantial quantities of very fine, subrounded sand grains; few inclusions over 1.0 mm in size (over most specimens). Rims tend to be straight to very slightly incurving, with plain unmodified lips.


From the Savannah River to the Santee River in the Sea Island area of South Carolina. Infrequent southwest of the North Edisto River and northeast of Bulls Bay; only rarely noted in the interior Coastal Plain.

Chronological Position

Late Archaic period, Thom's Creek Phase (2000BC to 1000BC). Trinkley (1980a:63-64, 287) suggests that the ware may date to the later part of the phase, postdating most other Thom's Creek types.

Primary References

Griffin (1943; notes the presence of fiber tempered, finger pinched ware at the Chester Field shell ring); Waring (in Williams, ed. 1968:330-331); Waddell (1965a); Edwards (1965); Calmes (1967); (1970); Sutherland (1974); Trinkley (1975, 1976a, 1980a, 1980b), Anderson (1975b), Widmer (1976a), Michie (1979), Anderson et al. (1982:260-261), Sassaman (1993).