Analyses of physical and mineralogical properties of the pottery are undertaken to provide precise data primarily pertaining to chronology, provenance or manufacturing origins, processes of production, culture change, and the development of sociopolitical and economic complexity in prehistoric Florida, the Southeastern US, and the Caribbean Basin. While the CTL applies a wide range of analytical techniques, including sherd refiring, vessel reconstruction, formal and functional analysis, and various experiments with clays, the primary focus is petrographic analysis.

Petrographic 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. These data are 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.

Recent papers

Cordell, Ann S
2007 Petrographic evaluation of Belle Glade and Sandy St. Johns Pastes. The Florida Anthropologist 60(2-3):117-126.

Cordell, Ann S. and Kathleen Deagan
In Press. Paste Variability and Clay Resource Utilization in 16th Century Aboriginal Pottery from the Fountain of Youth Site, St. Augustine, Florida, 8SJ31. Chapter 5 in Life Among the Tides, edited by V.D. Thompson and D.H. Thomas. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History.

Livingood, Patrick C. and Ann S. Cordell
2009 Point/counterpoint: the Accuracy and Feasibility of Digital Image Techniques in the Analysis of Ceramic Thin Sections. The Journal of Archaeological Science 36:867-872.

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.

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

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 37:2598-2611.

Wallis, Neill J. and Ann S. Cordell
In Press. Swift Creek Interactions Under the Microscope: Petrographic Analysis of Pottery and Clay Samples from the Atlantic Coast. Chapter 4 in Life Among the Tides, edited by V.D. Thompson and D.H. Thomas. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History.

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 (2011) 2914-2924.