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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Hercules Ware

Hercules Ware
Hercules Ware
Hercules Ware
Hercules Ware
Period: Late Woodland
Defining Attributes: Hercules Ware is an undecorated late Middle Woodland pottery with contorted paste, tempered with large pieces of crushed quartz, granite, or gneiss with mainly a wicker-fabric-impressed surface treatment. The ware lacks decoration.
Chronology: Hercules Ware is placed in the late Middle Woodland and the beginning of the Late Woodland, 700 to 1200 CE. (Egloff and Potter 1982). The smaller size of the wicker-fabric impressions, compared to those on the Stony Creek and Prince George wares, indicate that Hercules Ware is later, but its lack of rim modification and decoration suggests that it is probably not too later in the Late Woodland Period.
Distribution: Hercules Ware was defined by Smith (1984) at the Hand Site (44SN0022) along the Nottoway River in Southampton County. Hercules Ware has been noted as far north as the James River in Prince George County and at the Kiser Site (Chesterfield County) near the fall line in Petersburg. Mouer identified a very similar ware, which he called Shockoe, in Henrico County. Shockoe Fabric Marked Ware extends west of Richmond into the Piedmont. There, it merges with Albemarle Ware, a contemporary ceramic. Therefore, the general distribution of Hercules/Shockoe wares is in the Interior Coastal Plain and Fall Line transition of southern Virginia along and south of the James River, and an unknown distance into the Piedmont.
Description:
Paste/Temper: The paste is typically compact, clayey and contorted, containing 30 to 60 percent of a crushed (2 to 5 mm) quartz, granite, or gneiss. The sherds break with a characteristic blocky to angular fracture.
Surface Treatment: The surface treatment of the coiled vessels is either a wicker fabric of a medium width (warp diameters 2 to 4mm, woof diameters 1 to 2 mm), or cord marked. Fabric impressed is far more common than cord. Many examples exhibit a rich black finish all over the exterior, suggesting purposeful carbon smudging.
Decoration: Lacks decoration.
Morpholopgy:
Vessel Form: Vessels are medium to deep open bowls with direct to slightly insloping rims.
Vessel Diameter: Unknown
Vessel Height: Unknown
Rim Form: Lips are almost always rounded, although lightly flattened and inwardly beveled forms are known
Base Form: Gently rounded to globular bases.
Vessel Wall Thickness: Medium to moderately thick.
Discussion: Hercules Ware appears to be closely related to Shockoe Fabric Marked Ware, defined by Mouer (1986). Both wares bear close comparison with Hell Island Fabric Impressed Ware from the Delmarva Peninsula to the north, and to some of the Cashie Fabric Impressed material defined in North Carolina by Phelps (1983).
Defined in the Literature: Hercules Ware was defined by Smith (1984) at the Hand Site (44SN0022) along the Nottoway River in Southampton County. Mouer defined Shockoe Fabric Marked Ware in 1986 from pottery from the Shockoe Slip Site (44HE0077) in Richmond. The two wares are very similar.
References: Egloff and Potter 1982; Mouer 1986; Phelps (1983); Smith 1984;
Prepared By: Egloff 2009

Updated February 6, 2020