Virginia State Seal

Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Selden Island Ware

Selden Island Ware
Selden Island Ware
Selden Island Ware
Selden Island Ware
Period: Early Woodland
Defining Attributes: Selden Island is an Early Woodland ware characterized by steatite temper and a cord-marked exterior.
Chronology: Early Woodland, 1000 to 500 BCE. A radiometric date of 1005 +/-90 BCE was obtained from Clyde Farm in Delaware.
Distribution: Selden Island Ware is found in the northern Coastal Plain and Piedmont of Virginia, throughout the Maryland Coast Plain and Piedmont, Delaware, and southeastern Pennsylvania.
Description:
Paste/Temper: Crushed steatite comprising 25 to 50 percent of the paste. Temper ranges from fine powder to coarse chunks (over 1 cm.). The color tends to be light buff to gray to reddish-brown, sometimes with oxidized core. The texture is soft, feels soapy and breaks easily.
Surface Treatment: The exterior is cord-marked haphazardly or in an overlapping pattern. The interior is irregularly smoothed
Decoration: Typically none, but some vessels exhibit a notched lip.
Morpholopgy:
Vessel Form: Coil-construction forming conical vessels, with curved to straight sides, and lug handles.
Vessel Diameter: Sherds suggests diameters ranging from 10 to 35 cm.
Vessel Height: Unknown, but the coil construction suggests that the vessels were built up higher than the earlier Marcey Creek pots.
Rim Form: Thin, rounded, vertical or slightly everted. Sometimes has a notched lip.
Base Form: Conical bases.
Vessel Wall Thickness: Wall thickness ranges from 7 to 14 mm, while bases range from 9 to 15 mm.
Discussion: Selden Island Cord Marked is closely related to Mary Creek Plain, but is believed to be slightly more recent in time. The difference: coil contruction and cord-marked surface treatment. The type site is located on an island in the Potomac River near the fall line. The distribution of Selden Island Ware seems to be restricted mainly to northern Virginia. The earliest cord-marked pottery elsewhere in Virginia is commonly tempered with clay or less often other varieties of crushed stone.
Defined in the Literature: Richard Slattery (1946) first identified Selden Island pottery from sherds found at the Selden Island site (18MO20) in Montgomery County, Maryland.
References: Artusy 1976; Dent 1995; Egloff and Potter 1982; Evans 1955; Slattery 1946;
Prepared By: Egloff 2010

Updated February 6, 2020