Thoms Creek Simple Stamped

from David Anderson's Thoms Creek Type Description


The type Thom's Creek Simple Stamped was formally defined by Phelps (1968:21), based on a sample of 52 sherds from Whites Mound (9RI4) and the Boy Scout site (9BK6), two locations along the central Savannah River drainage in eastern Georgia. The ware has been occasionally noted in site reports from the South Carolina area (e.g. Widmer 1976a, Michie 1979), but recognition has been hampered by the close similarity of most simple stamped ceramics in the region. Typically, sherds are identified as Thom's Creek Simple Stamped when they are found on sites where only the Thom's Creek series ceramics are present or where other series are only minimally represented. Trinkley (1980a:292) has noted that simple stamping occurs only infrequently in coastal Thom's Creek sites, and has suggested that:

what other researchers and I are calling Thom's Creek Simple Stamping is actually either Refuge or Deptford. . . . I also suspect that simple stamped sherds will occur only on late Thom's Creek sites, and are part of the transition from Thom's Creek to Refuge/ Deptford (Trinkley 1980a:292).

While what appears to be a Thom's Creek simple stamped ware was noted in moderate quantities at the Bass Pond site (38CH124) on Kiawah Island (Michie 1979:49). Simple stamping is documented within the coeval Stallings series (e.g. Claflin 1931; Fairbanks 1942; Phelps 1968; Stoltman 1974; Widmer 1976a), where it also appears to be a minority ware. Simple stamping on fiber tempered wares appears to be most common in the interior southeast (as in the Wheeler series of northern Alabama, Sears and Griffin 1950; see also Stoltman 1974:63); a similar distributional pattern may occur within the Thom's Creek series (Phelps 1968: 21). It is possible that simple stamping appears only near the end of the Late Archaic, and predominately in the interior, although this needs to be more thoroughly documented.

Simple stamping is extremely common in the ensuing Refuge series, and may evolve directly from Thom's Creek forerunners. DePratter (1979:117) has discussed the evolution of north Georgia coastal ceramics, offering the following perspective:

At sometime around 1100 BC, changes in the ceramic tempering materials began on the Georgia coast. Sand and grit were gradually added to the fiber-tempered St Simons ceramics, until eventually the sand and grit completely replaced the fibers. The resulting sand and grit tempered incised, punctated, and plain ceramics are now identified as Refuge I phase types. Refuge Punctated and Incised were made for only a brief period. A new type, Refuge Simple Stamped, was added to the ceramic assemblage prior to the disappearance of incising and punctation. Simple stamping occurs on fiber tempered Stallings Island ceramics inland on the Savannah River (Claflin, 1931; Phelps, 1968), and it is likely that simple stamping originated in that area (DePratter 1979:117).

DePratter is here clearly offering an evolutionary interpretation of changes in ceramic styles and technology along the north Georgia coast.

The appearance of simple stamping may be due, in part, to these changes in ceramic technology; the finish may reflect a greater need to malleate the coiled, as opposed to molded pottery. Use of paddles probably quickly led to a recognition of their potential for applying design; alternatively (or additionally), the stamping may have been functional, to make the vessel easier to hold. Some sherds exhibit broad shallow grooves similar to what Trinkley (1980a:260-261) provisionally called Awendaw Finger Impressed. The moderate incidence of straight-to-excurvate, flattened lips, and the high incidence of lip treatment, suggests that the ware is a late addition to the Thom's Creek series. The flattened, straight-to-excurvate rims are typical of later wares, and there is also some evidence for an increase in lip decoration over time in Thom's Creek assemblages, for example at Mattassee Lake. A late appearance for the ware, in the interior, would support the inferences advanced by Trinkley and DePratter (discussed previously) about the age and origin of simple stamping in the general region.

Sorting Criteria

Stamping includes both "v" and "u" shaped impressions, typically applied parallel to each other, and somewhat carelessly; cross-stamping infrequent. Stamps range from both shallow and deep v-shaped grooves to u-shaped grooves of varying width, typically about 2 mm across. The v-shaped impressions are typically cruder, indicating less care in carving. In most cases the stamps are carelessly applied, with considerable impression overlap; most stamping is parallel or at an angle to the rim, with cross-stamping rare. Rims tend to be straight to slightly excurvate, with the incurvate form less common than over the other Thom's Creek types. Lips tend to be flat or rounded, with a fairly high incidence of decorative treatment, typically simple stamping. Paste is similar or identical to that noted for Thom's Creek Reed Separate Punctate. May be confused with Deptford and later simple stamped wares.


Poorly documented. Appears to occur in low incidence throughout the Coastal Plain and Fall Line areas of South Carolina and adjoining portions of eastern Georgia and southwestern North Carolina. Like most of the Thom's Creek types, it is rare above the Fall Line.

Chronological Position

Late Archaic period, Thom's Creek Phase (2000BC to 1000BC).

Primary References

Phelps (1968),Widmer (1976), Michie (1979), DePratter (1979; see discussion of Refuge Simple Stamped type); Trinkley (1980a), Anderson et al. (1982:261-263).