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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Wythe Ware

Wythe Ware
Wythe Ware
Wythe Ware
Wythe Ware
Wythe Ware
Wythe Ware
Wythe Ware
Wythe Ware
Wythe Ware
Wythe Ware
Wythe Ware
Wythe Ware
Period: Late Woodland
Defining Attributes: Wythe Ware is a Late Woodland sandtempered pottery with mainly knotted net, cord, corn cob, and plain surfaces. Interior scraped marks remain on many of the sherds.
Chronology: Holland placed the age of the ware at 1330 +/- 120 CE (SI-130) based on a single radiometric determination from the Fairlawn Site (44PU0009). Wythe Ware was dated 1290 and 1450 CE at 44BD0020 (Boyd 1998). MacCord (1998) dated the ware to 1295+/- 95 CE at the Martin Site (44WY0013) in Wythe County. Similar sandtempered ware was recovered at the European Contact period Trigg Site, 44MY0003. The ware probably dates from 1250 to 1630 CE.
Distribution: As originally defined Wythe Ware is found mainly along the Holston River in Smyth County and along the New River in Wythe, Pulaski, and Montgomery counties. Rarely is it found further to the west. Recently, it is viewed as a western expression of Dan River Ware.
Description:
Paste/Temper: Wythe Ware is a fine sand temper pottery. Mica is prominent in some sherds, absent in others, and probably represents one of the constituency in local clays.
Surface Treatment: Wythe Ware as originally define has net, cord, fabric, plain, scraped and stamped surface treatments. The heart of Wythe Ware is net and cord marked surface treatments. Holland’s (1970) fabric, as shown in Plate 14, is probably a form of looped net, while his scraped is a scraped or smoothed over cord. His check-stamped surface treatment is probably the Middle Woodland Connestee Ware, or a few stray sherds of a Late Woodland check stamped, probably deriving from North Carolina. Corn cob impressions can occur commonly on small vessels or on larger vessels in the neck area to assist in shaping the constricted neck and everted rim. Plain incised or punctated sherds do occur and often represent small jars or bowls, some of which are caswela, A few curvilinear stamped sherds, similar to Qualla Ware, do occur in the region and illustrates influences coming from North Carolina.
Decoration: Decoration is rare. Finger pinching occurs along the rim and at the neck.
Morpholopgy:
Vessel Form: Wythe vessels are coil constructed with paddle malleation. The vessels are globular pots with constricted neck; a few are globular with insloping rims.
Vessel Diameter: Diameter ranges from 15 to 44 cm.
Vessel Height: Unknown
Rim Form: Lips are either flat with rounded edges or oval in cross-section. Rims are in-sloping to everted. A few rims are thickened with a folded strip that may extend 3.5 cm below the rim. The lip may be either finger pinched in one direction only, or pinched in both directions forming small evenly-spaced cones. Finger-pinching may occur below the neck on the shoulder of the vessel.
Base Form: Thicken and rounded.
Vessel Wall Thickness: Wall thickness ranges from 3 to 12 mm.
Discussion: Paul Gardner (1980) in his study of Dan River Ware views Wythe Ware as a western variant of Dan River, and Clarksville Ware as an eastern variant. Thus the sandtempered pottery from the eastern Piedmont to southwestern Virginia is similar and may represent the same socio-cultural connected people. However, various traits occur more commonly in one ware and less in another. Wythe Ware appears to have more knotted net and less looped net than either Dan River or Clarksville ware. Wythe Ware retains interior scraped marks more often, while Dan River and Clarksville ware have smoothed interiors. Wythe Ware, like all wares in southwest Virginia, may exhibit either looped and strap handles. Handles occur less commonly on Dan River and not at all on Clarksville. Folded rims that are common on Clarksville are less common on Dan River Ware and on Wythe Ware. A few applique rims, reminiscent of Pisgah Ware, have been noted on Wythe Ware and are rare on Dan River and do not occur on Clarksville wares. Evans (1955) noted a sand tempered curvilinear pottery from the Cornett Site (44WY0001) in Wythe County, similar to Qualla Ware, probably illustrating contact with North Carolina. Occasionally curvilinear stamping may occur in the Dan River region, but is extremely rare in the Clarksville region.
Defined in the Literature: Holland defined the ware in 1970. Gardner (1980) referred to Wythe Ware as the western variant of Dan River Ware.
References: Boyd 1998; Evans 1955.; Holland 1970:69-73; MacCord 1998; Gardner 1980.;
Prepared By: Egloff 2009

Updated February 6, 2020