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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Gaston Ware

Gaston Ware
Gaston Ware
Gaston Ware
Gaston Ware
Gaston Ware
Gaston Ware
Gaston Ware
Gaston Ware
Period: European Contact
Defining Attributes: Gaston Ware, represented by one type, simple stamped, has angular to subangular quartztemper 2 to 5 mm in diameter in a clayey, compact paste. Finger pinched, incised, and punctated decorations, along with folded rims are diagnostic attributes of the ware.
Chronology: The ware was dated by Coe (1964: 119) in the Roanoke Rapids Basin as post 1700 CE (radiometric date of 1741 CE) and close to the terminal date for all aboriginal occupation in that area. Gaston ceramics appear to be an excellent indicator of protohistoric to early historic contact period.
Distribution: Comparable material is found along the fall line transition and Interior Coastal Plain in Greeneville (John Green Site, 44GV0001), Chesterfield and Charles City counties, and at the Flowerdew Hundred and Jordans Journey (44PG0001) sites in Prince George County, and occasionally as far north as Henrico and Hanover counties. Similar material has been found in the Piedmont as far north as the Waugh Site (44BE0005) in Bedford County.
Description:
Paste/Temper: Coe described only crushed quartz as temper, but in Virginia rounded river sand from 2 to 5 mm in diameter is more common.
Surface Treatment: The whole exterior surface was malleated with a grooved paddle or a paddle wrapped with a non-twisted thong. A smoothed-over simple-stamped variant has been indentified at a number of sites in the Interior Coastal Plain, including 44SX0198 (see photos of sherds & profile). This variant is probably later within the historic period
Decoration: Pots without folded rims were decorated primarily by notching the lip, normally with the finger, but in other cases the edge of the paddle was used. In some cases a decoration was placed on the outside of the rim just below the lip. This was made by incising, by circular punctation, or by finger pinching. The most characteristic decoration was the folded rim which averaged 1.5 to 2 cm in width. The lower edge of the fold was usually punched or incised. When incised, the impression continued below the fold. All of the decoration on the folded rim had the practical function of tacking down the folded rim.
Morpholopgy:
Vessel Form: Round to globular, short-necked jars with side walls incurved to a constricted neck then flared to form a recurved rim.
Vessel Diameter: Mouth diameters ranged from 28 to 40 cm. Body diameter ranged from 30 to 52 cm.
Vessel Height: Unknown
Rim Form: Lips were usually flattened with a paddle. Some were rounded and finger smoothed. Rims were flared on jar forms and straight to slightly incurved on bowl forms.
Base Form: Round to flat. A few were conical.
Vessel Wall Thickness: The body wall thickness ranged from 4 to 7 mm.
Discussion: Evans (1955:43) included similar simple-stamped, quartztempered sherds in his Albemarle Series, and Binford (1964:287) has similar sherds as part of his Branchville Series (Egloff and Potter 1982:109). Gaston Ware is a protohistoric to historic form of the Cashie Simple Stamped Type defined by Phelps (1983) for the Interior Coastal Plain of North Carolina. Gaston simple-stamped ceramics also appear to be an excellent indicator of protohistoric/early contact Native American occupation, centering in Weanock territory. It is the principal ceramic type on two Weanock settlements identified on Captain John Smith’s 1612 map of Virginia, Flowerdew Hundred and Jordan’s Point, both in Prince George County. It is also a significant minority ware (over 30 percent of all identifiable sherds with remainder being almost exclusively Roanoke simple stamped and related plain variety) at Tree Hill Farm (44HE0301), Henrico County, which is the likely location of the capital village of the Powhatan district, also identified on Smith’ map. To the east of Weanock territory, Gaston simple-stamped sherds virtually disappear. This is seen at a Paspahegh settlement (also on Smith’s map) at the confluence of the James and Chickahominy rivers in James City County where Gaston simple-stamped sherds are not present in contrast to Roanoke simple-stamped which represent nearly 90 percent of all identified sherds at the site followed by a related plain variety at 5 percent. At Jamestown Island thousands of Native American sherds have been recovered in English features dating to the first years of the Jamestown settlement. Here, approximately 75 percent of all identifiable Native American sherds are Roanoke simple-stamped or a related plain variety (32 percent), with Gaston simple-stamped sherds not exceeding 1 percent of the assemblage. Gaston simple-stamped sherds have not been identified at known protohistoric/contact period Native American sites further east on the James River, such as Dumpling Island in Suffolk and the Great Neck Site in Virginia Beach (Turner 1993).
Defined in the Literature: Coe (1964) defined the ware from sites along the Roanoke Rapids Reservoir Basin in North Carolina, just south of the Virginia state line.
References: Binford 1964; Binford 1964; Coe 1964; Egloff and Potter 1982; Evans 1955; Phelps 1983; Turner 1993;
Prepared By: Turner 2000; Egloff 2009

Updated February 6, 2020