Ashley Complicated Stamped

from David Anderson's (1996) Type Description


Not previously defined. South (1973b: 54-55; 1976: 28-29) noted the presence of an Ashley ware, or series, in his "Indian Pottery Taxonomy for the South Carolina Coast," based on material found at Charles Town Landing (South 1970, 1971). No descriptions of the Ashley types-Ashley Complicated Stamped, Ashley Simple Stamped, Ashley Burnished Plain, and Ashley Corncob impressed have appeared. The general attributes of the ware have been reported, however, and have been widely used to help identify late prehistoric and protohistoric wares. These attributes included:

carved paddle stamped with enlarged motifs, carelessly applied decorative motifs, burnishing, finger punctated rims strips and folded rims, sloppy incising, corncob impressed type present (South

The use of rosettes, reed punctations, and punctated rim strips was attributed to earlier complicated stamped wares, such as the Pee Dee series (South A similar evolution, from reed punctated to finger pinched rims, has been demonstrated within Lamar ceramic ceramics from the Middle Oconee River in eastern Georgia (Rudolph 1978; Rudolph and Blanton and a comparable trend was also noted at the type site for the Pee Dee series, Town Creek (Reid 1967: 82-83). Trinkley (1981d: 12- 14) has recently provided general descriptions of two protohistoric series, Wachesaw and Catawba, that may be temporally coeval with South's Ashley series. The absence of coiling over the Wachesaw series Trinkley 12) differentiates this ware from the Ashley series, which is coiled. The description of Catawba Complicated Stamped (Trinkley 1981d: 14 is too general to permit valid comparison, although a general similarity with the Ashley series is evident. Careful, quantitatively based comparative analyses will prove essential to the discussion of late prehistoric ceramics; what is currently needed are thorough descriptions backed by facts and figures and based on large sample sizes.

A total of 36 sherds were classified Ashley Complicated Stamped from the 1979 excavation units at Mattassee Lake. The category exhibited considerable variability in design, paste, and color, and the type tended to serve as a catch-all for sherds with crudely carved, sloppily applied complicated stamping that could not be subsumed under the Pee Dee and Savannah types. Ashley Complicated Stamped ceramics were stratigraphically the highest most recent) of any of the types recovered in the block, and the second highest type (second to the single sherd of Savannah Check Stamped) recovered in the block.

Sorting Criteria

Complicated stamping over the exterior vessel surface; overstamping common. Stamp impressions are (typically) bold, with the space between the lands fairly wide (between 3.0 and 5.0 mm). The stamp is often carelessly applied and smeared or overstamped; the design itself is often poorly carved and crude in appearance. Paste highly variable, typically with some small (0.1-1.0 mm) sand inclusions present. Rim strips are common and tend to be folded finger pinched. May be confused with both Savannah Complicated Stamped and Pee Complicated Stamped.


Poorly documented. An occurrence in the Sea Island area of South Carolina and in the interior along major river drainages appears likely.

Chronological Position

Protohistoric period, Ashley Phase (1600 - 1715 AD). South (1971) reported a date of 1780AD; for the ware from Charles Towne Landing; this determination is probably a century too recent, although the standard deviation brings the date in line with the suspected range of the ware. The 1715 terminal date reflects the effective end of Indian occupation in the lower South Carolina Coastal Plain brought about by the Yamessee War.

Primary References

South (1971b, 1976: Ashley type reported): Wauchope (1966, Lamar Complicated Stamped type and assemblage descriptions); Trinkley 1981d discussion of late prehistoric ceramics along the South Carolina coast); Smith, Rudolph, Rudolph, and Blanton 1980; evolution of Lamar ceramics); Ferguson (1971; overview of Mississippian adaptation/cultural evolution).