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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Pisgah Ware

Pisgah Ware
Pisgah Ware
Period: Late Woodland
Defining Attributes: Rectilinear complicated stamping on a sandtemper body with thickened rims decorated with rows of short diagonal slits and gashes.
Chronology: The ware probably dates from 1000 to 1450 CE. Holland obtained a radiometric date of 1210 +/- 120 CE (SI 131) from 44LE 0017
Distribution: Pisgah Ware is found in the very tip of southwestern Virginia on the Powell and Clinch River drainages. Holland (1970) and Egloff (1987) observed the ware from ten sites in Lee (44LE0010, 44LE0014, and 44LE0017), Scott (44SC0004, 44SC0009, and 44SC0013), Russell (44RU0007 and 44RU0009), and Smyth counties, and one rockshelter in Wise County (44WS0024, Rogers 1982:22). A limestonetempered variety of Pisgah Ware was found at the Cornelius site (44WG0035) in Washington County.
Description:
Paste/Temper: Pisgah Ware has a fine to coarse sand temper with particles usually about 0.1 to 1.5 mm.
Surface Treatment: Surface treatment includes rectilinear, curvilinear, and check stamped-all applied with a carved wooden paddle, and plain.
Decoration: The most striking feature of Pisgah Ware is the varied and ornate decorations of the rim area. The rims may be collared, thickened and unmodified. The most common decoration is a series of short diagonal punctations, ranging from narrow slits to bold gashes, arranged in parallel rows. Appendages include vertical lugs, nodes, and castellations. Loop handles, usually notched, incised or punctated, do occur.
Morpholopgy:
Vessel Form: Pisgah vessels are coil constructed with paddle malleation. Globular jars and open bowls are common.
Vessel Diameter: Orifice diameters range from 10 to 40 cm.
Vessel Height: Unknown
Rim Form: Lips are rounded, flattened, or ridged.
Base Form: Rounded to slightly pointed on jars, rounded to slightly flatten on bowls.
Vessel Wall Thickness: Vessel walls range from 4.5 to 8.5 mm thick, with an average of 6.5 mm. Basal sherds are thicker.
Discussion: Pisgah Ware, due to the complicated stamped surface treatment, collared rims, punctated decorations, and strap handles presents a strikingly attractive pottery. The pottery demonstrates the continuity of influences from the south entering southwest Virginia during the middle of the Late Woodland Period. Some of its traits, the rectilinear and check stamping, thickened rims with slits and gashes, transfers to limestone tempered pottery that has been found at the Cornelius Site, 44WG0035, in Washington County (Deitrick 1999).
Defined in the Literature: Pisgah Ware was first described by Holden (1966) and later defined by Dickens (1976) for the Appalachian Summit region of western North Carolina. Holland (1970) defined the same ware in 1970 from sites in Lee and Scott counties, calling it Lee Ware.
References: Deitrick 1999; Dickens 1976; Egloff 1987; Holden 1966; Holland 1970; Rogers 1982.;
Prepared By: Egloff 2008

Updated February 6, 2020