Virginia State Seal Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Waterlily Ware

Period: Early Woodland
Defining Attributes: Waterlily Ware is an Early Woodland ceramic composed of one type, plain. The vessels are oval with flat bottoms, tempered with shell, and exhibit lug handles.
Chronology: Waterlily has never been dated, although it is assumed to date to the Early Woodland period, 1200 to 1000 BCE.
Distribution: Waterlily Ware is found in the Outer Coastal Plain of northeast North Carolina on the Currituck Sound near the small town of Waterlily, and the adjacent section of Virginia, the Virginia Beach area. It may have been identified on the Eastern Shore of Virginia at 44NH0478.
Paste/Temper: Large amounts of medium to large crushed shell. Normally the shell has leached out of the body of the vessel. The paste of the vessel is clayey and may contain specks of red hematite clay.
Surface Treatment: No surface treatment, but typically a slightly bumpy surface
Decoration: None
Vessel Form: Flat-bottom vessel, oval in shape, with straight walls and lug handles
Vessel Diameter: Unknown
Vessel Height: Unknown
Rim Form: Straight and direct, rounded lip
Base Form: Flat-bottom and oval in shape
Vessel Wall Thickness: Vessel walls appear very thick, normally 9 to 11 mm in thickness
Discussion: The ware is believed to be contemporary with Marcey Creek, Croaker Landing, and Ware Plain wares. It appears to be a regional variation of the Early Woodland “experimental wares” which share characteristic in form, paste, and surface treatment. The main difference between these wares is temper.
Defined in the Literature: Waterlily Ware was first referred to in the literature by Floyd Painter in 1977 in ‘The Beaker Makers of Currituck Sound’ article. He referred to the pottery as ancestral to the Beaker Ware found at the Currituck site. A complete description of Waterlily Ware has never been done, in part due to the scarcity of identifiable sherds.
References: Painter 1977;
Prepared By: Egloff 2012

Updated: February 6, 2020