Defining Attributes: Croaker Landing Ware is one of the earliest pottery in Virginia and dates from the Early Woodland. Surface treatment is mainly plain and some cord markings. The type is characterized by clay or grog temper and smoothed surfaces. Vessels are rectanguloid or oval bowls with flat bases and lug handles.
Chronology: Croaker Landing Ware is believed to be contemporary with Marcey Creek and Seldon Island wares. This association suggests a date range of 1200 BCE to 800 BCE. Corrected, calibrated radiometric dates from 44KW0081 suggest that Croaker Landing Ware may be as early as 1490 to 1130 BCE (Pullins 1996).
Distribution: Geographically the distribution of Croaker Landing Ware is centered in Virginia’s Coastal Plain. Examples of this ware have been located in King William, King and Queen, Powhatan, New Kent, James City, Gloucester and York counties. It has also been identified in the cities of Suffolk, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach. Petrographic analysis has determined with a high degree of probability that most of the ceramics at the Walkerton Site, King William County, were locally made
Description: Paste/Temper: The ware is tempered with subangular clay particles; at the Croaker Landing site these particles were 2 to7 mm in diameter, and comprised 50 percent of the paste (Egloff et al. 1988). At 44KW0081 the majority of the sherds averaged between 10 and 31percent grog. Grog found in Croaker Landing ceramics includes both crushed clay sherds and subangular clay particles. Petrographic analysis has shown that at least some of the grog in Croaker Landing vessels is itself tempered with grog confirming the existence of crushed sherds as temper. Some examples of this ware contain small amounts of crushed quartz, grit, steatite, shell, and sand in addition to the clay temper (Pullins 1996). Surface Treatment: Vessel exteriors are usually uneven due to clay tempering and are usually plain, smoothed over, or cord marked with a few rare examples exhibiting scraped or burnished exteriors. Cord marked examples may be most common in the Dismal Swamp-Suffolk region. The interiors are usually smoothed or scraped, and are also uneven.
Decoration: Croaker Landing vessels are rarely decorated and when they are decoration seems to be restricted to notched or irregularly incised vessel lips. One example of small faint, circular punctation along the top of the rim and at right angles to the rim on the exterior has been noted. Occasionally incidental fingernail impressions are clearly visible on vessel walls.
Morpholopgy: Vessel Form: Vessel bodies are rectanguloid or oval in form. Vessel Diameter: Vessels have wide orifices, similar to steatite vessels Vessel Height: Vessels are often relatively shallow. Rim Form: Rims are usually straight or slightly everted with rounded to partially flattened lips. Lips may be slightly irregular. Base Form: Bases are almost always flat-bottomed, although a few examples have suggested the existence of more rounded bases. An L-shaped corner usually joins the flat bottom to the vertical sides and is often a particularly diagnostic feature. Vessel Wall Thickness: At 44KW0081 vessel wall thickness varies from 5 to 14 mm with an average of 84 mm (Pullins 1996:83). Basal sherds are generally the thickest although it is interesting to note that rim and lip fragments are often of the same thickness as body sherds. Appendages: At 44KW0081 vessel wall thickness varies from 5 to 14 mm with an average of 84 mm (Pullins 1996:83). Basal sherds are generally the thickest although it is interesting to note that rim and lip fragments are often of the same thickness as body sherds.
Discussion: Croaker Landing Ware is distinctive in form and temper with “rectanguloid or round-flat bases reminiscent of carved soapstone vessels” (Egloff and Potter 1982:97). The ware is believed to be contemporary with Marcey Creek and Seldon Island wares. It appears to be a regional variation of the Early Woodland “experimental wares” which share characteristic in form, paste, and surface treatment. The main difference between the wares is temper. Evans (1955:75) referred to a similar “clay-sherd” tempered ware excavated from the lowest strata at the Potts Site on the Chickahominy River in New Kent County. McCary (1976:4) recorded rectanguloid and round flat bases, lug hands, and plain surfaces on “clay-sherd” tempered vessels at the Moysenec Site also along the Chickahominy River. McCary noted that the light tan, clay temper was “probably slightly fired or baked in the sun and subsequently crushed” before being added to the paste. Related to the cord-marked Croaker Landing Ware and probably of a similar time period is Painter’s (1970) Cypress Swamp Knobbed Ware found along the western scarp of the Dismal Swamp. It exhibits lug handles and conical bases, appears to be surface treated with the edge of a cord-wrapped paddle, and contains clay and or sherd temper. The north-south western scarp of the Dismal Swamp contains large sites exhibiting a great amount of early cord-marked pottery either tempered with clay or steatite or a combination of both materials.
Defined in the Literature: Croaker Landing Ware was defined by Egloff at the Croaker Landing Site (44JC0070) in James City County, Virginia. The ware was defined on the basis of 20 body sherds and 3 rim sherds representing 2 vessels (Egloff et al. 1988). In 1994, the William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research excavated the Walkerton Site (44KW0081) recovering numerous grog tempered Early Woodland ceramics. These ceramics were subjected to a detailed description and petrographic analysis.
References: Egloff and Potter 1982; Egloff et al. 1988; Evans 1955; McCary 1976; Painter 1970; Pullins 1996;