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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Accokeek Ware

Accokeek Ware
Accokeek Ware
Accokeek Ware
Accokeek Ware
Period: Middle Woodland
Defining Attributes: Accokeek is an Early Woodland ware that is sand tempered and/or crushed- quartz tempered with cord-marked exterior surfaces.
Chronology: Stephenson (1963) inferred a Middle Woodland date for the Accokeek Ware. Subsequently, friable sand and grit tempered ceramics with a variety of surface treatments, dating between 1100 and 500 BCE, were identified in secure contexts in the Middle Atlantic Region (Gardner and McNett 1971: 43 5; Mouer 1990: 187 191). An Early Woodland date appears certain for the type, though ceramics closely fitting the type description likely continued to be manufactured into Middle Woodland times.
Distribution: Accokeek Ware had been identified mainly at sites along the Potomac River drainage in the interior Coastal Plain and in the northern Piedmont of Virginia. It has been reported also along the James River in the Piedmont.
Description:
Paste/Temper: Friable sand and grit temper, sand, and angular quartz tempers have all been identified with the type. At the Accokeek Creek Site, temper size ranged between 1 and 10 mm. The regional data summarized by Klein and Stephens (1996: Table 13) indicates a range between 1.5 and 7.5 mm elsewhere.
Surface Treatment: Cord-marked surface predominate, as do cords with a final twist direction of S (defined in the positive impression). Cordage impressions on Accokeek sherds often overlap, the cordage is relatively thick, and the cords generally have been impressed deeply into the clay.
Decoration: Accokeek Ware is seldom decorated. Incising rarely occurs.
Morpholopgy:
Vessel Form: Manufacture involved coiling and malleating the surface. The conoidal jar with straight walls predominates in Accokeek assemblages. However, bowls are also known (Stephenson 1963: 97-100; Klein and Stevens 1996: 125). Lugs have been reported.
Vessel Diameter: At the Accokeek Creek Site, vessel diameters ranged from 25 to 40 cm. Wright (1973: 31) unearthed Accokeek Creek vessels ranging in size between 25 and 36 cm in zones I and II at Martins Pond (18AN141 ) and between 22 and 65 cm at King I (18AN69). Klein and Stevens (1996: 125) report vessel diameters ranging in size from 17 to 37 cm based on data from At The Falcon’s Landing (18PR131), Accotink Meander Site (44FX1908), and Spessard (44FV0134) sites.
Vessel Height: Stephenson (1963: 100) reported vessel heights of 25 to 40 cm, based on twelve reconstructed vessel sections.
Rim Form: Direct or vertical rims predominate, with slightly everted forms more common than slightly inverted or extremely everted. Both flat and rounded rims have been identified, as have pointed and thickened lips.
Base Form: Stephenson (1963: 100) reports conical to semiconical forms, with rounded bases rarely occurring.
Vessel Wall Thickness: Stephenson (1963: 100) reported a wall thickness range of 4 to14 mm, with 90 percent of all sherds measuring between 6 and 8 mm. Mean wall thickness data summarized by Klein and Stevens (1996: Table 13) fall in this range, with mean values between 6.47 mm and 7.4 mm.
Discussion: Ceramics similar to Accokeek occur in the central and southern Piedmont of Virginia. Along the James River they are called Elk Island (Mouer et al. 1981), and along the Roanoke River they are called Hyco (Miller 1962). Occurring slightly later and probably overlapping in time with Accokeek, are Popes Creek along the Potomac River, Chesterfield along the James River, and Stony Creek Ware along the Nottoway River.
Defined in the Literature: Stephenson (1963: 97 98) originally defined Accokeek based on his analysis of the artifacts excavated at the Accokeek Creek Site in the floodplain of the Potomac River, in Prince Georges County, Maryland.
References: Egloff and Potter 1982; Gardner and McNett 1971; Klein and Stevens 1996; McLearen 1991; Miller 1962; Mouer et al. 1981; Mouer 1990; Stephenson and Ferguson 1963; Wright 1963;
Prepared By: Klein 2000; Egloff 2009

 

Updated February 6, 2020