Virginia State Seal

Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Moyaone Ware

Period: European Contact
Defining Attributes: Moyaone is a Late Woodland to European Contact ware, characterized by compact paste, fine grained sand temper, soft texture, and smoothed interior and exterior surfaces. Defined types include Moyaone Cord Impressed, Moyanone Incised, and Moyaone Plain.
Chronology: Late Woodland, 1300 to1650 CE. Radiometric dates (uncorrected) of 1310 and 1460 CE were obtained from White Oak Point Site, 44WM0119) in Virginia (Waselkov 1982:258). The ware probably continued into the 1600s.
Distribution: The ware occurs in the Northern Neck of Virginia and the Western Shore of Maryland. It is most common in the Potomac River Valley.
Description:
Paste/Temper: The ware is coil-constructed. The plastic consists of compact clay with fine micaceous sand, occasionally mixed with coarse sand or crushed quartz. Predominantly light gray to gray brown, but can range from bluff to almost black.
Surface Treatment: The exterior is cord marked with a wrapped paddle, or smoothed. Cord markings are often partially or completely smoothed over. Cord marks are generally vertical to the rim, but are sometimes diagonal, horizontal, or crossed. The interior of the vessels are carefully smoothed, occasionally with fine tool striations.
Decoration: Moyaone Plain is undecorated. Decorations on Moyaone Cord Impressed are simple and confined to the rim and lip area. They are vertical, horizontal, or diagonal cord impressions. Decorations on Moyaone Incised are confined to the lip, rim, and upper body area, and consist of incised lines made with a sharp tool, a wide, dull tool, or rarely with a fingernail. Designs are far more complex than on Moyaone Cord Marked, and include horizontal lines, chevrons, crosshatching, and random lines. Designs are usually on smoothed areas, but can be over cord marks.
Morpholopgy:
Vessel Form: Bowls and everted rim jars, generally globular, occasionally cylindrical, with rounded bases. Vessels are generally small to medium in size. Moyaone Plain tends more toward simple bowls rather than jars.
Vessel Diameter: Maximum diameters are usually 8 to 12 cm, rarely up to 20 cm.
Vessel Height: Vessels are 10 to 15 cm in depth, rarely ranging up to 20 cm.
Rim Form: Generally everted, but sometimes inverted or vertical. Rims are occasionally thickened with a clay strip. Lips are usually rounded, but sometimes flattened or wedge-shaped. Lips are rarely cord marked.
Base Form: Bases are rounded.
Vessel Wall Thickness: Vessel wall thickness ranges from 5 to 10 mm but is usually 6 to 8 mm. Rims range from 10 to 12 mm thick
Discussion: The ware comes in three varieties: Incised, Cord Impressed, and Plain. Only the latter two have been identified in Virginia and their frequency is greatest in the northwestern part of the Northern Neck. On the one hand, early Moyaone seems closely related to Potomac Creek Ware and may only be a variety of that ware with a finer sand temper. Some researchers combine Moyaone with Potomac Creek due to shared ceramic characteristics and provenience. On the other hand, late Moyaone Ware, particularly the plain, seems related to the 17th century Camden Ware. All three ware-Potomac Creek, Moyaone, and Camden-probably overlap and represent a continuum in the Potomac and Rappahannock river valleys.
Defined in the Literature: In 1942, Karl Schmitt (1965:11-12) described a ceramic which he called ‘Potomac Creek Sand Tempered’ at the Potomac Creek Site (44ST0002). This ceramic was later revised, expanded, and defined by Stephenson et al. (1963) as Moyaone Ware at the Accokeek Creek Site (18PR8) in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The ware derives its name from the 17th century Indian village then occupying the Accokeek Creek Site.
References: Egloff and Potter 1982; Potter 1993; Schmitt 1965; Stephenson 1963; Waselkov 1982.;
Prepared By: Egloff 2009

Updated February 6, 2020