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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Swannanoa Ware

Swannanoa Ware
Swannanoa Ware
Swannanoa Ware
Swannanoa Ware
Period: Middle Woodland
Defining Attributes: Swannanoa Ware is an early Middle Woodland crushed-quartz to coarse sand tempered pottery with cord and fabric surface treatments. Rims are vertical to the conical body and decoration is lacking.
Chronology: Swannanoa Ware, the earliest known pottery in southwest Virginia, probably dates from 600 BCE to 100 CE.
Distribution: Swannanoa Ware was identified at McIlhany’s (1983:32-35) excavations at 44RU0044, from Holland’s (1970) surface collections at 44SC0004 and 44SC0009, and from 44WS0088 (William Porter personal communication).
Description:
Paste/Temper: Swannanoa Ware is a crushed-quartz to coarse sand tempered pottery. Temper makes up to 40 percent of the paste. The mean size of the crushed quartz is 4.6 mm. The sand grain size ranges from 1.5 to 3.0 mm with a mean of 2.1 mm.
Surface Treatment: Swannanoa Ware, in its original definition, included cord, fabric, plain, simple stamped, and checked stamped surface treatments. Only cord and fabric have been noted in Virginia.
Decoration: None
Morpholopgy:
Vessel Form: Swannanoa vessels are coil constructed with paddle malleation. Straight-sided conical shaped jars are common.
Vessel Diameter: Unknown
Vessel Height: Unknown
Rim Form: Lips are either rounded or flattened. Notching of lips is rare.
Base Form: Conical bases.
Vessel Wall Thickness: Sherd walls appear thick. Body sherds averaged 8.1 mm and had a range of 6 to12 mm.
Discussion: Swannanoa Ware is the earliest recorded ceramics from southwest Virginia. Work conducted by William Porter (personal communication) in a rockshelter (44WS0088) near the Guest River uncovered the Swannanoa Fabric Mark beneath Long Branch Fabric Marked pottery. Watts Bar, a similar ware originally defined in eastern Tennessee, tends to be thicker with a higher percentage of crushed quartz (Lafferty 1981:307-314).
Defined in the Literature: First described by Holden (1966) and later by Keel (1976: 260-266) in Western North Carolina.
References: Egloff 1987; Holden 1966; Holland’s 1970; Keel 1976; Lafferty 1981; McIlhany1983.;
Prepared By: Egloff 2008

Updated February 6, 2020