Wilmington Brushed

from David Anderson's type description


The type Wilmington Brushed was formally defined by (1979: 130-13 1) based on materials in collections from WPA-era excavations at the mouth of the Savannah, and using information from Caldwell and unpublished Deptford site manuscript. The Wilmington Brushed type from the Georgia coast is characterized by a clay/grog tempered paste, and may be related to the Deptford Brushed type. The type materials are thought to be decorated with bundles of sticks or grass, with tempering consisting of crushed sherds or crushed, low-fired clay fragments (DePratter 1979: 129-130). Brushing is reported over the entire body, and is also occasionally noted on the bases of Wilmington Heavy Cord Marked vessels. In the latter cases the brushed appearance may derive from vegetation the pot may have been placed on prior to firing.

The temporal and taxonomic relationships of southeast Atlantic coastal clay/grog tempered wares are currently somewhat ambiguously perceived, and appear to depend as much on geography or absolute dates as on distinctive attributes of the wares themselves. Two major series of clay/grog tempered wares are currently established in the literature for the region (if we view, for the sake of convenience, the Wilmington and St. Catherines series as sequential parts of a local tradition). These are: the Hanover series from coastal North Carolina and northern coastal South Carolina and, (2) the Wilmington/St. Catherines series from central coastal South Carolina south into the sea island area of Georgia. Sherd (clay/grog) tempered ceramics are, therefore, documented throughout most of the area from central coastal North Carolina to the sea islands of Georgia. The northern (Hanover) wares are earlier, and are dominated by fabric impressed surface finish; they are additionally found well into the interior of the coastal plain South 1960, Anderson 1975a, Loftfield 1976). The southern wares (Wilmington, St. Catherines), in contrast, are dominated by cord marking, and appear restricted to the coast in the area south of Charleston Harbor, occurring only rarely in the interior Caldwell Anderson 189). The southern wares occur later, although continuity through time and over space is apparent. A number of radiocarbon dates from the central South Carolina coast, in particular, document the length of this tradition, and the temporal overlap between the northern and southern margins South 1971; South and 1976; Dorian and Logan 1979). A north to south movement, or adoption, of this distinctive tempering/manufacturing technology is indicated.

The clay/grog tempered ceramics from the southeastern Atlantic coast thus comprise a distinctive local tradition whose geographic and temporal extent is only now becoming known. The similarities over this area appear to greatly outweigh the differences. While the incidence of specific finishes differs over the area, and assemblages can be sorted, individual sherds typically cannot:

Material from the Savannah River area called Wilmington is generally thicker, sandier, and somewhat more poorly made than material to the north (eg Hanover). The variation is slight, however, and can be detected only in assemblages from the northern and southern areas and not from the individual sherds; within these assemblages individual sherd-tempered sherds may be readily substituted in assemblages over the area (Anderson 189).

Separation of these wares into discrete ceramic series does not make good sense taxonomically. Nowhere is this more evident than in the central coastal area of South Carolina, where it could be argued that a major criteria used to classify wares as either Hanover or Wilmington appears to be the age of associated radiocarbon dates.

For this reason, most post-Refuge/pre-St. Catherines clay/grog tempered ceramic types in the Carolinas are subsumed under the Wilmington series, with variants acknowledged as necessary to accommodate perceived variability in the ware. This would reduce (or at least acknowledge) the ambiguity inherent in attempting to sort the various types now in use Hanover Cord Marked from Wilmington Heavy Cord Marked), while simultaneously providing a realistic and accurate method for accommodating the variability that does exist. Such a procedure would greatly streamline local typology (by eliminating redundant ceramic series) and help establish a much needed regional analytical perspective.

Sorting Criteria

Haphazardly applied parallel brushed or combed impressions over the exterior vessel surface; occasional cross-brushing. Impressions are typically shallow (0.5-1.0 mm) and narrow (1 .O-2.0 with striations and smearing common. The paste is characterized by crushed sherds or grog from 3 to 5 mm in maximum dimension, although larger inclusions up to 10.0mmare sometimes noted. The finish is sometimes observed on the bases of Wilmington Heavy Cord Marked vessels.


Poorly documented. The finish is a minority type at the mouth of the Savannah River, and likely occurs with Wilmington assemblages on the southwestern South Carolina coast.

Chronological Position

Late Woodland period (ca. AD 1000). DePratter (1979) suggests it may postdate AD 600 at the mouth of the Savannah.


DePratter 1979: 131.