The Archaeology of North Carolina

North Carolina Archaeological Time

The Woodland and Mississippian Periods in North Carolina

Coastal Woodland || Piedmont Tradition Early/Middle Woodland   ||  Piedmont Tradition Late Woodland   ||  Southern Piedmont Late Woodland  ||  Appalachian Summit Woodland   ||  South Appalachian Mississippian

The Woodland Period on the Coast and Coastal Plain

Early Woodland (1000 - 300 B.C.)

Most of what is known about the Early Woodland period in the coastal regions comes from ceramic studies. The earliest ceramics in North Carolina are typologically similar to Late Archaic Stallings ware pottery of the Georgia and South Carolina coasts

Antecedents to Early Woodland pottery

Fiber tempered Late Archaic Stallings Island pottery is found as far north as the Tar and Chowan River drainages, but is generally restricted to south of the Neuse River. In the Middle Atlantic region, the earliest pottery is a steatite-tempered ware called Marcy Creek and similar sherds have occasionally been found north of the Neuse River.

Thom's Creek pottery, which is generally thought to be roughly contemporaneous with Stallings ware, has only been reported from the southern coastal region.

Thom's Creek Punctated sherds
Thom's Creek Punctated.

Deep Creek and New River Phases

At the beginning of the Early Woodland period, pottery made with a sand-tempered paste with a cordmarked exterior began to be made throughout the coastal region.

In the north, this pottery is called the Deep Creek series. The Deep Creek series is related to the Stony Creek series of southern Virginia. Large triangular points similar to the Roanoke Triangular type at the Gaston site are believed to be associated with Deep Creek ceramics.

In the southern coastal plain, the New River pottery series is thought to date to the same time period as Deep Creek. Although the vibrant Early Woodland Deptford ceramic tradition borders New River phase to the south, Deptford influences are not apparent.

Much more information is needed before Deep Creek and New River phases can be firmly defined along the coast.

Hamp's Landing

Hamp's Landing is a distinctive limestone-tempered pottery with plain, thong-marked, cordmarked, fabric marked, or simple stamped surfaces found along the southern coast.

Hamp's Landing Simple Stamped sherds
Hamp's Landing Simple Stamped.

Although associated with a Late Archaic period radiocarbon date at one site, other considerations (size, shape, and density of temper) make it seem likely a transitional Early-to-Middle Woodland time span is probably more accurate for Hamps' Landing ceramics.

©2010 UNC-RLA