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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Clarksville Ware

Clarksville Ware
Clarksville Ware
Clarksville Ware
Clarksville Ware
Period: Late Woodland
Defining Attributes: Clarksville Ware is a Late Woodland to Contact period sandtempered pottery with net, cord, plain and corncob surface treatments. The net may be knotted or looped. The looped net superficially appears to be fabric. Folded rims with finger-nail or jab punctation are common.
Chronology: The age is estimated at CE 1200 to 1650.
Distribution: Clarksville Ware is found along the Roanoke River drainage in Mecklenburg, Halifax, and Charlotte counties, and in Greensville County.
Description:
Paste/Temper: Clarksville Ware is tempered with a medium to coarse sand. Temper composes about 25 percent of the paste, imparting a very sandy texture to the vessel.
Surface Treatment: As originally defined by Evans (1955), Clarksville Ware included net, cord, fabric, combed, plain, and corncob surface treatments. A unique looped net was mistakenly identified as a fabric. The weave of the looped net may be very small or quite large. When pulled obliquely across the paddle, which it often is, the looped net appears to be a woven fabric. The combed surface treatment may actually be similar to the simple stamping on Gaston Ware, found to the east near the Fall Line. Although true simple-plaited fabric-marked pottery occurs in the region, it dates to the Early and Middle Woodland periods and should not be included in Clarksville Ware.
Decoration: Nicking or finger pinching on the lip and collar is common. Occasionally, punctations, gashes, or notches made with a sharp or rounded stick are on the exterior of the folded-rim, especially on the lower edge. The finger pinching, punctation and gashes were done to tack down the folded rim.
Morpholopgy:
Vessel Form: Medium to large round to globular, short-collared jars with constricted neck, and thus forming either a vertical or slightly recurved rim.
Vessel Diameter: Mouth diameters range from 20 to 32 cm; majority 26 to 40 cm. Body diameter range from 36 to 40 cm.
Vessel Height: Small jars to large storage vessels have been identified, 20 to 60 cm. Some storage jars are very large, and leave the astonished viewer with the reaction ‘How did they make such large and thin vessels by coiling?
Rim Form: Usually a folded-over or added coil on the exterior. There is considerable variation in size and width of folding, ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 cm, forming a rim from 1 to 1.5 cm thick.
Base Form: Conoidal to subconoidal
Vessel Wall Thickness: Range from 6 to 12 mm; majority 7 to 8 mm.
Discussion: As originally defined Clarksville Ware included fabric and combed surface treatments. It is now known that the fabric is a unique variety of looped net and that the combed is probably the simple stamping of Gaston Ware. Gardner (1980) saw Clarksville Ware as representing the eastern variant of Dan River Ware. The looped-net type of Clarksville Ware has been noted as far east as the Fall Line at the John Green Site (44GV0001) along the Meherrin River. There the impressions are of a very small looped net. As one continues west into the Dan River Ware region, the unique looped net of the Clarksville Ware drops out and a more recognizable looped net appears. This more recognizable form of looped net continues west into the Wythe Ware region. At that location in Virginia, looped net becomes more rare and knotted net common.
Defined in the Literature: Evans defined the ware in 1955. Gardner (1980) suggested that Clarksville Ware could be viewed as an eastern variant of Dan River Ware.
References: Evans 1955:49-53; Gardner 1980;
Prepared By: Egloff 2009

Updated February 6, 2020