Potters and Weavers


by Vicki L. Rolland

Evidence of perishable fiber-built objects is preserved on the surfaces of this region’s prehistoric pottery. Fabric impressions, whether deliberate or accidental, reveal that native crafters utilized a variety of twilled, twined and knotted construction techniques. Widely- or tightly-spaced weaves or open-looped and knotted cordage nets could have functioned as transport/storage containers or for the capture of subsistence items.

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Coiled Spiral Base

Tightly Twined Basketry

Illustration of Coiled Spiral Base

Photo of Coiled Spiral Base

Tightly Twined Basketry Illustration

Tightly Twined Basketry Photo

Knotting Open Guage Netting

Simple Plaiting

Knotting OpGuage Netting Illustration

Knotting Open Guage Netting Photo

Simple Twill Illustration

Simple Twill Photo

Simple Open Twining

Tight Coiling Single Ply

Simple Open Twining Illustration

Simple Open Twining Photo

Tight Coiling Illustration


Bone and stick with wrapped cording
Potters intentionally rolled cordage-wrapped dowels or bones over the surfaces of wet-clay pots


clam shells bearing spokeshave-like divots
Clam shells bearing spokeshave-like divots

In this verdant environment, vines, grasses, palms, and estuarine rushes provided diverse materials that were utilized for rigid- or flexible-walled constructions. Reduced clam shells bearing spokeshave-like divots suggest service as fine-gauge hand tools used in the preparation of green media.

Shells bearing spokeshave-like divots
Shells bearing spokeshave-like divots

V-shaped indentions at the ends of halved long bones also suggest use as stripping or strand-evening implements. Twisted cordage impressions can measure as narrow as 1.5 mm and flatter twill strands as narrow as 4 mm.


Ocmulgee Pottery (A.D. 900-1250)
Figure A. Ocmulgee Pottery (A.D. 900-1250)

Employed as a visual marker of social membership, Ocmulgee (A.D. 900-1250) (A), and St. Marys (A.D. 1250-1500) (B), potters intentionally rolled cordage-wrapped dowels or bones over the surfaces of wet-clay pots. The impressions are continuous and not broken by paddle edges. To further identify their individual vessels, Ocmulgee potters used different cordage spacing, angles, and widths to finish appliquéd rim strips. Distinct appliqué depths also show a variety of styles. More uniformly built and decorated St. Marys vessels lack rim appliqués.

St. Marys Pottery (A.D. 1250-1500)
Figure B. St. Marys (A.D. 1250-1500)

In contrast to intentional cordmarking, vague impressions found on vessel bases, appear on St. Johns and sand-tempered sherds. These impressions may be the result of building the vessel as it sat on a coiled-fiber base or placing a newly completed pot on a woven surface to dry.  Though vague, measurable data and twist direction can still be recorded.


Ashley, Keith H. and Vicki L. Rolland. 2002, St. Marys Cordmarked Pottery: A Type Description. The Florida Anthropologist. Vol. 55(1):23-36.

Bolton. Lissant. 2011, Baskets and Belongings, Indigenous Australian Histories. The British Museum Press, London.

Hurley, William M. 1979, Cordage Identification of Impressions on Pottery. Prehistoric, Aldine Manuals on Archaeology 3, Taraxacum, Washington.

Minar, Jill.  1999, Impression Analysis of Cord-Marked Pottery, Learning Theory, and the Origins of the Alachua. Ph.D. dissertation, The University of California-Riverside.