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cover Current Research in New York Archaeology: A.D. 700–1300

edited by Christina B. Rieth and John P. Hart


Chapter 7: THE HISTORY OF THE COLLARED RIM IN THE FINGER LAKES, NEW YORK

Hetty Jo Brumbach

Abstract. An attribute analysis of rim and body sherds from sites in central New York reveals that the 'collared' rim form, often considered distinctive of late pre-Contact Iroquoian and Algonquian vessels, has a long history in this study area. The collared rim is common in many areas of the East, but its history is not well documented. Sherds from the Vinette site (dated to ca. cal. 300 B.C.) and Cottage site (ca. cal. A.D. 200) suggest that the form began as a band of decorative elements placed on the rim exterior just below the lip. At a later time, vessels with thickened rim areas were manufactured, followed by an "appliqué" collar bearing distinctive decorative motifs. Still later, more elaborately modeled collars appear. This paper will illustrate the subtle shifts in manufacturing that resulted in the distinctive collared rim.


Ceramic vessels with collared rims (Figure 7.1) are found throughout the Northeast (Kraft 1986; Lavin 2002; MacNeish 1952; McBride 1984; Puniello 1980; Ritchie 1969; Ritchie and Funk 1973; Ritchie and MacNeish 1949; Snow 1980). They were manufactured by peoples who spoke a wide variety of languages representing at least two language families: the Five Nations Iroquois of New York and related Iroquoian peoples of Pennsylvania, Ontario, and Quebec; and the Mahican, Delaware, and other speakers of Algonquian languages in eastern New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and southern New England. Among the New York Iroquois, collared rims and another elaborated rim form, the everted or wedge-shaped lip, account for the majority of rim forms on vessels of the Late Prehistoric period MacNeish 1952; Ritchie 1969; Ritchie and Funk 1973; Ritchie and MacNeish 1949). Despite the widespread appearance of this trait and the frequency with which Late Woodland and Protohistoric (ca. A.D. 1000–1600) period vessels were finished with this elaboration, and the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of illustrations of collared vessels in the literature, very little is known about the history of the collared rim.

Figure 7.1

Collared vessel with four castellations, Jefferson County, New York, ca. A.D. 1450–1500 (NYSM).


In their study of pre-Iroquoian ceramics, Ritchie and MacNeish (1949:106–107) defined two types with collared rims: Jack’s Reef Dentate Collar and Jack’s Reef Corded Collar. The former was described as having dentate stamped lines on appliqué collars or thickened rims; the latter type was essentially similar except that the applied decorations were made with a cord-wrapped stick (cws) or paddle. Both types were assigned to Ritchie’s (1969) late Point Peninsula stage (ca. A.D. 200–600) including components of the Jack’s Reef, Vinette, and Wickham sites (Ritchie and MacNeish 1949:106–107, 118). In discussing their origins, Ritchie and MacNeish state that clearly the two types are related to each other, but that “no prototype is known for either.” Despite the absence of a prototype, they recognized the archaeological importance of this innovation: “These two types appear to inaugurate a long tradition of collared pots in the New York area” (Ritchie and MacNeish 1949:107).

My interests in the collared rim developed out of a longitudinal study of pottery from the Finger Lakes region of central New York (Hart and Brumbach 2003, 2005, 2009; Hart et al. 2003, 2007; Thompson et al. 2004). In that study, my colleagues and I recorded attributes from over four hundred vessel rimsherd lots from 26 sites; all of these collections are curated by the New York State Museum. Most of these collections were made by William Ritchie or Robert Funk, their associates, or by amateur collectors who sought out their advice (Ritchie 1944, 1969; Ritchie and Funk 1973; Funk 1993, 1998). As a study collection, this material is unique in that it represents a long and almost continuous sequence of ceramics, from some of the earliest known pottery forms, Vinette 1 and related wares, through the Contact period Iroquoian vessels (Ritchie and MacNeish 1949; MacNeish 1952). The size, range, and completeness of this sample allows for detailed study of the ways in which pottery changed over time (Hart and Brumbach 2009).

Of course, pottery itself does not “change.” What does change are the methods and techniques of the people who manufactured the vessels and the needs of the people who used them (Chilton 1996; Mickelaki 2007). Our study allowed us to record a wealth of information on manufacturing techniques, vessel-forming methods, decorative elements, and related information. We also learned much about individual attributes and how they changed or were changed by the potters over time to combine and recombine, to appear, and to disappear. In the archaeological literature, regional culture histories are composed, in part, of the individual histories of ceramic types. In turn, types are composed of the individual histories of their component attributes. The longitudinal study of ceramics, and associated radiocarbon dates, has revealed much about certain attributes and when and how the attributes were combined and recombined to form the ceramic tradition of the New York Finger Lakes region.

We were also able to recover carbonized food residues from the interior surfaces of some of the vessels. These residues could be radiocarbon dated, allowing us to directly date specific vessels and gain greater knowledge of the timing of changes in pottery production. Some of these residues also produced phytoliths, microscopic plant structures that can be identified to species when the residues are sufficiently well preserved. As a result, not only could we obtain direct radiocarbon dates on vessels, but we could also identify some of the plant foods that were cooked in them. The results of the radiocarbon dating and phytolith identification have appeared elsewhere (Hart and Brumbach 2003, 2005, 2009; Hart et al. 2003, 2007; Hart and Matson 2009; Thompson et al. 2004), and will be referred to only briefly in this paper.

In the succeeding sections, I will describe the history of the collared rim profile in the Finger Lakes region of central New York as it was revealed in our study. Although I do not address the other major late prehistoric rim profile of this region, the wedge-shaped or thickened everted lip, it appears that this configuration also has a long history. The development of more elaborated rim forms is only one of a range of changes within the larger development of more complex ceramic vessels. I use the term “complex” to refer to the elaboration of vessel form, and the addition of new decorative elements. To produce more ‘complex’ vessels, the potters were undertaking additional steps in production, including greater attention paid to vessel form, more elaboration of vessel form, and application of new and more decorative elements. Study of the whole sequence of ceramics from this region reveals that the potters were manufacturing more complex vessels over time, and that additional steps were undertaken in ceramic production.

Early Woodland (cal. 1150–300 b.c.) Pottery and Steatite Vessels

The earliest ceramic vessels in this study have been attributed to the type Vinette 1, characterized by exterior and interior cord-marked surfaces produced by paddling or malleating the surface of the vessel when the clay was still plastic (Ritchie and MacNeish 1949:100), although there is much variation in the attribute of surface finish, including type of cording, degree of coarseness or fineness, and orientation of twist, among others (Taché 2005). Paddling probably represents the prevailing manner of thinning the vessel wall and finishing the surface and can be combined with either coiling or modeling as a forming technique. Many vessels of the Woodland period with smoothed surfaces were likely to have been cord-marked during one part of their production but were subsequently smoothed in preparation for stamped or incised decoration. Leaving the surface cording visible or unsmoothed might represent perpetuation of the surface finish of steatite vessels, some of which retained visible tool marks (Ritchie 1969). Vinette 1 and related ceramics were relatively small vessels produced in simple shapes with straight or slightly outsloping rims, straight necks, elongated bodies and conoidal bases (Ritchie and MacNeish 1949:100). A small number of vessels had a thin fillet applied to the rim to thicken the upper part of the vessel.

The earliest vessels of steatite were rarely decorated, although there are infrequent examples of such. Similarly, only a minority of Vinette 1 vessels were decorated beyond the surface finish. This may be due to the prevailing roughened surface finish of the early ceramics on which incised and stamped decorations are not readily visible, as well as the general lack of a tradition of painted decorations in the study region. Despite their rarity, some decorations were observed on Vinette 1 vessels in our samples. These decorations included oblique incised lines applied to the exterior surface over the cordmarking, some lip embellishment, and differing patterns of orientation of the exterior cording.

Early Middle Woodland ceramics (cal. 300 B.C.–A.D. 200): Vinette 2 ware

What Ritchie and MacNeish (1949) termed the Vinette 2 series are ceramic types largely assigned to the early part of the Middle Woodland period (cal. 300 B.C.–A.D. 200). Changes in ceramic production from Vinette 1 include: smoothing as a final form of surface treatment, although paddling with a corded object may have still been an intermediary step; the addition of incised and stamped decorative elements; and a gradual elaboration of vessel form. Rather than the simple shapes of the earliest wares, later wares are often characterized by everted rims, constricted necks, rounded shoulder areas, and increasingly rounded, semi-pointed, or even globular bases (Ritchie and MacNeish 1949:100–103).

Several vessels from one component at the Vinette site, Oswego County, dated to approximately cal. 300 B.C. (Hart and Brumbach 2005; Thompson et al. 2004) display more elaborated rims, some of which were embellished by an encircling decorative band placed just below the lip. On some vessels, the band bears distinct decorative elements, and on others the decorations are oriented differentially from that applied to the surface below the rim. These bands measured between 8 and 40 mm wide. Overall, 6 of 15 vessel lots recorded as part of our study from this component bore a distinct band of rim ornamentation. This decorative framing or setting off of the upper rim was termed Motif 1, and the band itself the “A-Zone.” Over the course of the remainder of the Middle Woodland period (through cal. A.D. 950), the A-Zone gradually became more common, broader, and elaborated. During the cal. fifth-century A.D. the decorative band was combined with a gradual thickening of the rim to form the earliest appliqué collared vessels.

Figure 7.2 illustrates an example of the ceramic type Vinette Dentate (Ritchie and MacNeish 1949). The exterior surface was smoothed and then decorated with an all-over pattern combining both simple dentate and dentate rocker-stamping. The dentate stamping on the upper rim in an A-Zone band 40 mm wide is oriented at a different angle from the stamping on the vessel’s neck and shoulder. This vessel was assigned to the ca. cal. 300 B.C. component based on stratigraphy and the direct AMS dating of residue from another sherd (Hart and Brumbach 2005:25).

Figure 7.2

Rim sherd (NYSM 40028-1) of the type Vinette Dentate from the Vinette site, Oswego County, dated ca. cal. 300 B.C. A decorative band just below the lip bears simple and rockered dentate stamping oriented differentially from that below the band.


A second vessel (Figure 7.3) from the Vinette site, from a later component dated to ca. cal. A.D. 40 (Hart and Brumbach 2005:25), also assigned to the type Vinette Dentate, bears a band just below the lip of right oblique dentate stamps over a smoothed surface. The neck is decorated with vertical dentate rocker-stamping. Although the rim appears to be that of a collar, the profile is a much everted lip; the different orientation in the decorations, as well as the everted lip serve to visually set off or frame the upper rim in the same way a modeled or appliqué collar would do.

Figure 7.3

Upper rim of a vessel with what appears to be a collar but in profile is a much everted lip. A band of right oblique dentate stamping adorns the upper rim and vertical dentate stamping is placed on the neck. Vinette site, ca. cal. A.D. 40, NYSM 40009-2.


A third example from Vinette also typed as Vinette Dentate and from the ca. cal. A.D. 40 component (Figure 7.4) has a decorative band of right oblique dentate stamps measuring 13 mm wide; on the neck is rocker dentate stamping oriented at a different angle and serving to set off the upper rim.

Figure 7.4

Vessel from the Vinette site, ca. cal. A.D. 40, NYSM 40147-21, assigned to the type Vinette Dentate. The exterior is smoothed. The uppermost decoration is a band of right oblique dentate stamps. Below are additional dentate stamps oriented differently to set off the upper rim.


A fourth and final example from the Vinette site (Figure 7.5), also identified as Vinette Dentate and from the ca. cal. A.D. 40 component, has a short, uppermost decorative band of vertical dentate stamps 11 mm wide. This decorative band is visually enhanced by deeper punctated dentates at the lower end of the stamps. Below this, the neck area is given emphasis with oblique lines of short dentate stamping that is similar visually to corded punctates that appear on ceramic types assigned to the late Middle Woodland, and to the oblique platted elements of ceramic types assigned to the early Late Woodland by Ritchie and MacNeish (1949).

Figure 7.5

Vessel from the Vinette site, ca. cal. A.D. 40, NYSM 40069-1, assigned to the type Vinette Dentate. The exterior surface is smoothed. Short dentate stamps form a decorative encircling band just below the rim. The band is set off or framed by deeper terminal dentate stamps or punctates. The neck bears right oblique lines of dentate stamps, a design very similar to later platted designs that give emphasis to this part of the vessel.


In our study, we identified an A-Zone on a number of vessels with these attributes. These vessels do not have thickened lips, or modeled or appliqué collars, but the upper rims are differentiated by one or more bands of decorations that set off this part of the vessel. The marking of the rim area, and the subsequent differentiation of a neck by some degree of constriction and/or distinct decoration, resulted in an increase in complexity of some vessel forms. These vessels are therefore distinguished not only by formal type, but also by the differentiation of the structural parts of the vessel. Thus, while Vinette 1 and related wares were characterized by simple shapes, the later Middle and early Late Woodland vessels were frequently characterized by distinct rims, necks, shoulders and bodies set off by surface finish, decoration, and sometimes, by vessel profile. Some of these later vessels were probably formed in two or more sections and then joined before final drying and firing, whereas the earliest vessels of the Early Woodland period appear to have been made in one piece.

The Cottage site in Broome County (Ritchie and Funk 1973) produced several vessel lots dated to ca. cal. A.D. 200 (Hart and Brumbach 2009) that bear similar arrangements of attributes. Two vessels of interest are both smoothed on the exterior surface and decorated with dentate stamping. One of these (Figure 7.6) has an upper decorative band measuring 29 mm wide with right oblique, simple and rocker-stamped dentate impressions. Below the band, the neck bears left oblique dentate stamps. A third decorative band may be present but was too fragmentary to identify. A second vessel (Figure 7.7) bears vertical and horizontal dentate rocker stamps in a band 23 mm wide. Below this, slightly oblique to horizontal lines of simple dentate stamping decorate the slightly constricted neck and rounded shoulder. Both vessels have been assigned to the type Point Peninsula Rocker-stamped.

Figure 7.6

Vessel from the Cottage site, NYSM 44469-55, assigned to the type Point Peninsula Rocker-stamped. The exterior surface is smoothed. The upper decorative band bears right oblique dentate stamps, some rockered, while on the neck is a band of left oblique dentate stamps. A third decorative band is not well preserved.


Figure 7.7

Vessel from the Cottage site, dated ca. cal. A.D. 200, NYSM 44469-28, assigned to the type Point Peninsula Rocker-stamped. The exterior surface is smoothed. The upper rim is embellished with a band of vertical and horizontal dentate rocker-stamping, while horizontal and slightly oblique lines of plain dentate stamps appear on the neck and shoulder.


Fifth Century A.D. Ceramics

By the cal. early fifth-century A.D., vessel rims exhibit all the decorative attributes of a Late Woodland collar, except for the profile. Vessels are also more complex with some changes in shape, and a second form of stamping, cord-wrapped stick (cws), now appears on many vessels. Cord-marked surface finishes re-appear during this period, although some vessels are cord-marked on only a part of the exterior.

A large portion of a refitted vessel from the Wickham site, Oswego County, further illustrates the development of rim designs (Figure 7.8). Carbonized residues recovered from the interior surface produced an AMS date of ca. cal. A.D. 400 (Hart et al. 2003), firmly placing the vessel in the cal. early fifth century A.D. The upper rim has a distinctive collar design, but the profile is not that of a collar. The surface of the rim is smoothed and just below the lip there is a band 13 mm wide of short right oblique to vertical cws stamps. Below this, on the slightly constricted neck, is a second band 34 mm wide embellished with horizontal cws stamping. The combination of short vertical to oblique elements above horizontal elements appears commonly on vessel collars of a later date. Additionally, because a large portion of the vessel was refitted, it also serves to illustrate another development in vessel complexity, what we informally termed ‘motif 2’, the application of different designs and surface finishes to different structural parts of the vessel. Below the two decorative bands, the shoulder is left undecorated but bears a different surface finish from the neck and rim and is now corded to smoothed-over cord-marked. Surprisingly, although the vessel is dated to ca. cal. A.D. 400, the potters used decorative elements and surface finish to set off different parts of the vessel, a configuration that becomes almost diagnostic of Ritchie and MacNeish’s (1949) latest pre-Iroquoian types. This differentiation of structural parts of the vessel by design and surface finish stands in contrast to the early Vinette 1 and related wares, characterized by simple shapes and all-over designs.

Figure 7.8

Refitted partial vessel from the Wickham site, Oswego County, NYSM 40170, assigned to the type Owasco Corded Horizontal. The rim and neck are smoothed and covered with cws stamped decorations. Just below the lip is a band of short right oblique stamps, and the neck bears a wider band of horizontal cws stamping. Below the two bands, the shoulder area is corded to smoothed-over-corded and otherwise left undecorated. A direct AMS date of 1648±47 B.P. was obtained on carbonized residues.


Later fifth century A.D. vessels from the Felix site, Onondaga County, dated to ca. cal. A.D. 490 (Hart and Brumbach 2005:26–27), bear similar design elements (Figure 7.9). The exterior surface is corded and a thin fillet of clay was applied to the upper rim, forming an applied collar 25.5 mm high. Vertical to right oblique cord-wrapped stick stamping was added to increase the visual impact of the thickened rim. At the base of the ‘collar’ element is a horizontal band of short right oblique cord-wrapped stick impressions that creates a framing element, presaging the nicks and notches placed on the base of many Late Woodland collars. The neck and shoulder areas are embellished with horizontal cord-wrapped stick applied over a corded surface finish. The rim profile is that of a simple applied collar, however rim eversion is not very marked and the neck is not greatly constricted; it is likely that the potter’s intention was only to strengthen the rim rather than to produce a new rim profile configuration.

Figure 7.9

A vessel from the Felix site, Onondaga County, dated ca. cal. A.D. 490, NYSM 40727-24, 25, with an incipient collar formed by adding a fillet or extra lute of clay to thicken the rim. Surface finish is corded. A band of right oblique cws impressions appears just below the lip. At the base of the incipient collar is a band of short cws impressions that forms a framing element. Surface finish on the neck and shoulder is also corded and then embellished with horizontal cws impressions.


Early AppliquÉ Collars

The two early collared types identified by Ritchie and MacNeish (1949) are Jack’s Reef Dentate Collar and Jack’s Reef Corded Collar. Both types were attributed to the Late Point Peninsula Tradition (Ritchie 1969; Ritchie and Funk 1973) of central New York and eastern Ontario, including components of the Jack’s Reef, Vinette, and Wickham sites (Ritchie and MacNeish 1949:106–107,118). In discussing the origins of the types, Ritchie and MacNeish (1949:106–107) state that clearly the two types are related to each other, but that “no prototype is known for either.” They recognize their importance, archaeologically however, and state: “These two types appear to inaugurate a long tradition of collared pots in the New York area.”

The decorative band encircling the uppermost exterior of the vessel (A-Zone), is the first part of the collar configuration; thickening of the rim represents the second part. The decorative rim band appears very early in our study, seemingly as early as the development of Vinette 2 pottery. Thickening of the rim was also noted on early vessels but only as a minority attribute, and perhaps only when the potter perceived the rim was too thin to support the vessel and needed to be reinforced. A more regular combination of the two attributes does not occur until around ca. cal. A.D. 450 in our samples. Rim thickening gradually becomes more commonplace over time, and eventually, the thickening became a simple appliqué collar.

Some early vessels, such as many examples of Vinette 1 wares, may not have been used directly in the fire or may have been used only for stone-boiling. Later Middle Woodland vessels are more likely to have evidence of direct use in the fire. In our study samples, we observed more systematic thickening of rims around the period of the cal. fifth century A.D., although as already stated the practice does occur earlier. Was there a reason for this change in ceramic production at this time? Undoubtedly, there was, but the difficulty is identifying a specific explanation. Cooking practice undoubtedly played a role here: changes in food preparation may have resulted in either greater stress applied to the rim when moving the vessel, or in accessing and transferring vessel contents, or increased vessel size and weight of contents put greater stress on the rim. Re-enforcing the vessel rim by applying a fillet of clay would have been one solution to the problem.

Analysis of phytoliths preserved in some of the carbonized food residues adhering to the interior of vessel surfaces provides some information concerning the plant foods cooked in these vessels. Residues taken from a vessel from the Vinette site directly AMS-dated to ca. cal. 300 B.C. yielded maize phytoliths, while later components of the Middle Woodland sites produced phytoliths of maize, wild rice, squash, and sedge (Hart et al. 2007). Further study might provide more information on the amount of different species prepared or on changes in the way food was prepared, as well as resulting stresses placed on the vessels.

By early in the cal. seventh century A.D., design elements similar to ones that later appear on collared vessels were being used. Some potters thickened the upper rim area and then embellished it with distinct design elements; some vessels were manufactured with distinct rims, necks, and bodies. The cal. seventh century A.D. component at the Kipp Island site, Seneca County, produced several vessels of interest. Figure 7.10 illustrates a vessel with a decorative band of right oblique, cord-wrapped stick stamps on a smoothed surface; horizontal cord-wrapped stick impressions were applied to the smoothed-over cord-marked neck. The profile shows little rim eversion or thickening. Preserved carbonized residues recovered from the interior surface were used to obtain an AMS date of ca. cal. A.D. 620. Phytoliths recovered from the residue indicate the vessel was used to cook maize, wild rice, cucurbit, and sedge (Hart et al. 2003, 2007).

Figure 7.10

Vessel from the Kipp Island site, Seneca County, NYSM 41119-8. The rim bears a decorative band of right oblique cws stamps on a smoothed surface while horizontal cws was applied to the smoothed-over cord-marked neck. The profile shows little rim eversion or thickening.


The cal. mid-seventh-century A.D. component at the Felix site, Onondaga County, also produced vessels with similar sets of design (e.g., Figure 7.11). One vessel bears similar design elements except in this case they are executed with a dentate stamp rather than the cord-wrapped stamp noted on vessels from Kipp Island and Felix described above. The rim profile of the Felix vessel is slightly everted and without a collar, but the decorative elements on the rim are similar to those that appear on collars. The surface was first smoothed and then decorated with a band of right oblique dentate stamps 23.5 mm wide. Below this, the exterior was also smoothed and then decorated with horizontal dentate stamps. Unfortunately, the shoulder area of the vessel is not preserved, so we cannot determine if it bore the cord-marking observed on the Wickham vessel. The vessel was assigned to the type Vinette Dentate.

Figure 7.11

Vessel from the Felix site, Onondaga County, dated ca. cal. A.D. 650, NYSM 40767-2. The exterior surface is smoothed and then decorated with a band of right oblique dentate stamps. The lower band is horizontal dentate stamps.


Changes apparent during the cal. fifth through seventh centuries A.D. include the gradual replacement of dentate stamping by cord-wrapped stick stamping, as well as a resurgence of corded surface finishes or the use of contrasting surface finishes on different structural elements of the vessel. This change in decorative elements and techniques is interesting in itself, but whether it signals changes in the social environment, an even more interesting possibility, will not be further addressed in this paper.

Simple, applied collars formed by thickening the rim also characterize some of the vessels (e.g., Figure 7.12) from the Hunter’s Home site, Wayne County, dated to ca. cal. A.D. 820 (Hart and Brumbach 2005:31–32). The upper rim bears a decorative band with elements different from those on the lower parts of the vessel. The exterior surface is cord-marked, and cord-wrapped stick stamping was applied in a criss-cross pattern on the thickened part of the rim. Below this, the neck bears additional cord-wrapped stick impressions applied in horizontal lines. The vessel was assigned to the type Jack’s Reef Corded Collar due to the presence of the collar. Without this element, the vessel could be assigned to the type Kipp Island Criss-Cross.

Figure 7.12

Vessel from the Hunter’s Home site, Wayne County, dated ca. cal. A.D. 820, NYSM 48582-8. The surface is cord-marked. The rim has an applied collar decorated with cws impressions applied in a criss-cross pattern. Below this, the neck bears cws impressions oriented horizontally.


Criss-cross designs continue to appear on vessels during the following centuries. A vessel from the Hunter’s Home site without an applied collar bears an upper decorative band of alternating and sometimes overlapping right and left cord-wrapped stick stamps (Figure 7.13). Below the decorative band, the neck and upper shoulder are differentiated by cord-wrapped stick stamping oriented into horizontal lines. The decorative elements closely resemble those observed on the preceding vessel from Hunter’s Home, but the rim is not thickened. The criss-cross and alternating/overlapping oblique design elements later become a dominant design structure during the Late Woodland when they are reconfigured into alternating right and left oblique incised lines and opposed triangles on collars. This vessel was assigned to the type Owasco Corded Horizontal. Carbonized residues recovered from the interior surface produced phytoliths of wild rice, maize, and cucurbit (Hart et al. 2003, 2007).

Sites of the succeeding cal. tenth-century A.D. also produced vessels with decorated A-Zones and, to a lesser degree, thickened rims. At both Levanna, dated to ca. cal. A.D. 925 (Hart and Brumbach 2009), and at Wickham, dated to ca. cal. A.D. 930 (Hart and Brumbach 2005), the A-Zone was found to be wider and more elaborated, measuring between 11 and 38 mm wide at the former site and between 19 and 45 mm wide at the latter.

Figure 7.13

Vessel from the Hunter’s Home site, Wayne County, dated ca. cal. A.D. 820, NYSM 48584-1. The upper rim bears a band of alternating right and left oblique cws stamps. Below the rim, the cws stamping is oriented horizontally.


Modeled Collars

The earliest vessels in our sample with modeled collars similar to the predominant rim profile of the latter half of the Late Woodland, come from the component at the Felix site dated to ca. cal. A.D. 1030 (Figure 7.14). The vessel has a modeled collar 44.3 mm high above a constricted neck. The exterior surface is smoothed. The collar bears horizontal and right oblique cord-wrapped stick elements, and short right oblique cord-wrapped stick stamps reminiscent of earlier elements used to ‘frame’ major rim designs are placed at the base of the collar. To the upper right in the illustration is a hint of an elementary castellation, or rim peak, but the sherd is broken and the castellation may only be illusory. The vessel is assigned to the type Owasco Corded Collar (Ritchie and MacNeish 1949).

Figure 7.14

Vessel from the Felix site, dated ca. cal. A.D. 1030, NYSM 40697-4,11. The exterior surface is smoothed; horizontal and right oblique cws stamps appear on the modeled collar; short oblique cws stamps are placed at the base of the collar.


After its appearance around cal. A.D. 1000, modeled collars remain in the minority for several centuries. None of our samples from the Bates site, dated to ca. cal. A.D. 1130 (Hart 2000), or Maxon Derby dated to ca. cal. A.D. 1176 (Hart 2000), were collared. Gradually, however, the collared rim profile does increase in frequency until by the latter half of the Late Woodland, collared rims and the everted or wedge-shaped lips dominate ceramic assemblages. The final illustration is from the Kelso site (Figure 7.15; NYSM 42581) dated ca. cal. A.D. 1400 (Hart and Lovis 2007). The surface is smoothed and the rim profile is that of an almost vertical, modeled collar. The decorative elements on the collar and on the base of the collar are cord-wrapped stick stamps. Those on the collar are horizontal, and right oblique to almost vertical, under what appears to be a low, rounded castellation. At the base of the collar are short right oblique cws stamps. The basal collar motif also has a long history, having its origins in Middle Woodland times before potters even made collars. At a later time, the short oblique stamps are replaced by short nicks and then elaborated into distinct notches, another attribute diagnostic of the latter half of the Late Woodland. All 16 vessels studied from the Kelso site are collared. Most are assigned to the type Owasco Corded Collar, the rest to the type Oak Hill Corded (Ritchie and MacNeish 1949).

Figure 7.15

Vessel from the Kelso site, dated ca. cal. A.D. 1400, NYSM 42581-1. The surface is smoothed and there are cws impressions on the collar and at the base of the collar. The decorations on the collar are horizontal and almost vertical under the small castellation. The base of the collar was decorated with short right oblique cws impressions.


After cal. A.D. 1400, sites in our study, such as Kelso, Buyea, Richmond Mills, and Factory Hollow, are dominated by rims with modeled collars. During this time, potters manufactured increasingly complex vessels with collars and everted and thickened or wedge-shaped lips, as well as other rim embellishments such as castellations, ‘rim corners’, and ‘frills.’ These elaborations accompany other emerging complexities in social and political organization, kinship, increased sedentism, and larger community size.

SUMMARY AND RELEVANCE

The longitudinal study of ceramic attributes in the Finger Lakes area has revealed much about the lengthy and intricate history of the pottery. Pottery, like many other complex craft items, is composed of different attributes, most or all of which have their own “histories.” Because the attributes do not cycle synchronically, it is apparent that ‘types’ may not have great time depth (see Lavin 2002:165 for a succinct discussion of types and attributes). This paper has focused on only a few ceramic attributes, including a decorative band on the exterior rim below the lip (the A-Zone), a thickened rim, and short, framing elements of stamps or punctates. These elements do not appear at the same time in the archaeological record, but over time come together to form the characteristic collared rim of the late prehistoric period.

Certainly, ceramic attributes are not genes and we are not decoding the ‘ceramic genome’ when we carry out attribute analyses, but there is value in the endeavor. Ceramic assemblages represent one tangible part of the material record of the past and often serve as the best available proxy for more elusive records. The collared vessel was a distinguishing attribute of Iroquois pottery as well as that of neighboring peoples, and for that reason it is worth knowing more about its history. The study of the collared vessel is also one part of a larger study of ceramic complexity in the central New York State region that seeks to understand more about the lives of people during the Woodland period between the adoption of corn agriculture and the establishment of large, multi-family villages. Many of the archaeological sites from which these ceramics were recovered no longer exist. Some were destroyed in canal or road construction or by looting, and much of the direct evidence of settlement pattern, village and community organization, as well as floral and faunal remains, are no longer available. While excavations at yet undiscovered sites will help fill these voids, other lines of information can be obtained from curated collections of ceramics. Although a study of ceramic complexity is not an adequate proxy for other types of data that can inform more explicitly on sociopolitical and economic organization, it is indisputable that such study has much to contribute (Michelaki 2007; Smith 2005; Yentsch 1996).

The decisions that potters make when manufacturing complex craft items like ceramics are influenced by the prevailing material and social conditions of their lives. As Braun (1983) has pointed out, pots are tools and are manufactured to perform a function in the domestic economy, including storage and processing of food items. Changes in pottery manufacture are related to changes in other areas of food selection and the social setting of preparation and consumption. In addition to their role as a tool, pots are also craft items and domestic implements, and as such they are produced in a social setting by individuals who make decisions, conscious or otherwise, message-driven or not, about how pots are to be formed, decorated, and fired (Chilton 1996; Hart and Brumbach 2009; Michelaki 2007; Smith 2005; Yentsch 1996). As a result, pottery may inform us about individual choices and the social environment in which it is manufactured and used by Native Peoples (e.g., Dobres and Robb 2000). Pottery’s role as a ”social tool” suggests that changes in manufacture can inform on changes in social structure and complexity, processes that are not easily directly observed in the archaeological record.

Acknowledgments

I wish to thank my colleagues John Hart, Robert Thompson, Robert Lusteck, and Laurie Miroff for their collaboration, shared ideas, feedback, encouragement, and friendship. I am indebted to the staff of the New York State Museum, especially Ted Beblowski, Ralph Rataul, and Andrea Lain, for their generous assistance. I also thank Chris Rieth for inviting me to participate in the original symposium. Financial assistance was provided by the University at Albany Faculty Research Awards Program and the Deans Research Award Fund, College of Arts and Sciences, for the AMS dates and phytolith analyses which were integral parts of an earlier phase of this research. Any shortcomings are my own.


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