A table with paperwork, fired briquettes, a Munsell book of color chips, and Mohs hardness rock set
Recording briquette color and hardness

Researchers in the CTL undertake analyses of physical, mineralogical, and elemental properties of pottery to provide precise data relating to chronology, provenance or manufacturing origins, processes of production, culture change, and the development of sociopolitical and economic complexity.

Research focuses geographically on Florida, the Southeastern US, and the Caribbean Basin. In the CTL, we apply a wide range of analytical techniques, including sherd refiring, vessel reconstruction, formal and functional analysis, and various experiments with clays, with emphases on petrographic analysis and elemental analysis.

Characterizing the mineral and elemental composition of pottery provides data used to address questions of pottery technology and manufacturing origins (i.e., provenance), which ultimately contribute to our understandings of past manufacturing techniques, social interaction, mobility, and exchange. The determination of provenance among earthenware vessels, in particular, often involves comparisons with clay samples collected from the vicinity or region of archaeological interest.

Ann Cordell in labPetrographic analysis is a geological method that has been applied to archaeological pottery since the 1930s. Petrographic characterization of pottery thin sections provides identification of constituent mineral grains and quantification of constituent particle size and abundance.

To obtain elemental data on ceramics and their component parts, researchers in the CTL use a variety of analytical techniques including laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), neutron activation analysis (NAA), and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF).

Recent Publications

Thomas J. Pluckhahn and Neill J. Wallis
2018 Swift Creek at a Human Scale. Southeastern Archaeology 37(2):129-137. doi.org/10.1080/0734578x.2017.1342067

Rice, Prudence M., Ann S. Cordell, Gerald Kidder, Willie G. Harris Jr., Timothy W. Pugh, and Evelyn Chan Nieto
2018  Early Construction at Nixtun-Ch’ich’, Petén, Guatemala: An Architectural-Footing and -Bonding Sample. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 17: 754-761. doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.12.040

Cordell, Ann S., Neill J. Wallis, and Gerald Kidder
2017 Comparative Clay Analysis and Curation for Archaeological Pottery Studies. Advances in Archaeological Practice Volume 5(1):93-106. doi.org/10.1017/aap.2016.6

Livingood, Patrick C. and Ann S. Cordell
2017 Point/Counter Point II: the Accuracy and Feasibility of Digital Image Techniques in the Analysis of Pottery Tempers using Sherd Edges. In Integrative Approaches in Ceramic Petrography, edited by Mary F. Ownby, Isabelle C. Druc, and Maria A. Masucci, pp. 196-214. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

Pluckhahn, Thomas J., and Neill J. Wallis
2017 Social Networks and Networked Scholars: An Open-Access Database of Paddle Designs from Pottery of the Woodland Period in the American Southeast. Advances in Archaeological Practice 5(2):159-169. doi.org/10.1017/aap.2016.11

Wallis, Neill J., Ann S. Cordell, Erin Harris-Parks, Mark C. Donop, and Kristen Hall
2017 Provenance of Weeden Island “Sacred” and “Prestige” Vessels: Implications for Specialized Ritual Craft Production. Southeastern Archaeology 36(2):131-143.
dx.doi.org/10.1080/0734578X.2016.1237229

Wallis, Neill J., Thomas J. Pluckhahn, and Michael D. Glascock
2016    Sourcing Interaction Networks of the American Southeast: NAA of Swift Creek Complicated Stamped Pottery. American Antiquity 81(4):717-736. doi.org/10.1017/S0002731600101052

Lollis, Charly, Neill J. Wallis, and Ann S. Cordell
2015 Was St. Johns Pottery Made with Swamp Muck As Temper? An Experimental Assessment. The Florida Anthropologist 68(3-4): 97-112.

Wallis, Neill J., Zachary I. Gilmore, Ann S. Cordell, Keith H. Ashley, Thomas J. Pluckhahn, and Michael D. Glascock
2015 The Ceramic Ecology of Florida: Compositional Baselines for Pottery Provenance Studies. STAR: Science & Technology of Archaeological Research 1(2):29-48. dx.doi.org/10.1080/20548923.2015.1133119

Kemp, Kassie C.
2015  Pottery Exchange and Interaction at the Crystal River Site (8CI1), Florida. Unpublished MA thesis, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. Download PDF

Wallis, Neill J., Ann S. Cordell, Kathleen A. Deagan, and Michael J. Sullivan
2014 Inter-ethnic Social Interactions in 16th Century La Florida: Sourcing Pottery Using Siliceous Microfossils. Journal of Archaeological Science 43:127-140. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2013.11.031

Wallis, Neill J., Ann S. Cordell, and James B. Stoltman
2014 Foundations of The Cades Pond Culture in North-Central Florida: The River Styx Site (8AL458). Southeastern Archaeology 33(2): 168-188. dx.doi.org/10.1179/sea.2014.33.2.003

Cordell, Ann S. and Kathleen Deagan
2013 Paste Variability and Clay Resource Utilization at the Fountain of Youth Site, St. Augustine, Florida, 8SJ31. In Life Among the Tides: Recent Archaeology on the Georgia Bight, edited by V.D. Thompson and D.H. Thomas, pp. 95-117. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, no. 98.

Wallis, Neill J. and Ann S. Cordell
2013 Petrographic Analysis of Pottery and Clay Samples from the Georgia Bight: Evidence of Regional Social Interactions. In Life Among the Tides: Recent Archaeology on the Georgia Bight, edited by V.D. Thompson and D.H. Thomas, pp. 119-142. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, no. 98.

Wallis, Neill J., and George D. Kamenov
2013    Challenges in the Analysis of Heterogeneous Pottery by LA-ICP-MS: A Comparison with INAA. Archaeometry 55(5):893-909. doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4754.2012.00718.x

Pluckhahn, Thomas J. and Ann S. Cordell
2011 Paste Characterization of Weeden Island Pottery from Kolomoki and its Implications for Specialized Production. Southeastern Archaeology 30(2):288-310. dx.doi.org/10.1179/sea.2011.30.2.006

Wallis, Neill J.
2011 The Swift Creek Gift: Vessel Exchange on the Atlantic Coast. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

Wallis, Neill J., Ann S. Cordell, and Lee A. Newsom
2011 Using Hearths for Temper: Petrographic Analysis of Middle Woodland Charcoal-tempered Pottery in Northeast Florida. Journal of Archaeological Science 38 (11) 2914-2924. doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2011.05.024

Wallis, Neill J., Matthew Boulanger, Jeffrey R. Ferguson, Michael D. Glascock
2010 Woodland Period Ceramic Provenance and the Exchange of Swift Creek Complicated Stamped Pottery in the Southeastern United States. Journal of Archaeological Science 37(10):2598-2611. doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2010.05.020