Comparative Geochemical Assay of Napier and Connestee Ceramic Sherds as a Means to Evaluate Composition and Raw Materials Sourcing

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Wesley Parrish (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Brett Riggs


The Late Woodland period (ca A.D. 650-1000) ceramic ware, Napier, is a consistent, but small minority element of archaeological ceramic assemblages found in southwestern North Carolina. These wares are often used to identify obscure Late Woodland period archaeological components in southwestern North Carolina. This rare distinctive ceramic ware was originally defined and identified in central Georgia, and the origin of Napier sherds found in North Carolina sites remains unclear.

This study takes a geochemical approach to identify the composition of Napier Ceramic sherds and compares the elemental composition of them to more obviously local wares found within the same assemblages. This approach allows for evaluation of the similarities and differences in the clay bodies and aplastic content to be used to distinguish between Napier and Connestee ceramic sherds found within the same archaeological assemblages and identify whether they are composed of geochemically similar materials. Elemental-scale geochemical assays performed with pXRF (portable X-ray fluorescence) on 44 ceramic sherds from two sites (31JK32 [Cullowhee, NC] and 31MA36 [Otto, NC]) are compared using descriptive multivariate statistical techniques to determine if material composition effectively separates Napier sherds from the more common Connestee ceramic ware sherds. A Local (nonarchaeological) clay sample is introduced to serve as a control for clay composition. Discrete compositional classifications for Napier versus Connestee ceramic sherds are evaluated to deduce the origins for Napier ceramic vessels in southwestern North Carolina archaeological contexts.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022

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