New Histories of Pre-Columbian Florida

By Neill J. Wallis; Asa R. Randall | Go to book overview

9
Crafting Orange Pottery in Early Florida
Production and Distribution

REBECCA SAUNDERS AND MARGARET K. WRENN

Why pottery was adopted around the world in general—and specifically in the time and place it was in the southeastern United States—has been a topic of considerable concern for archaeologists. In this chapter, we discuss the origin and trajectory of Orange pottery in northeast Florida, one of the earliest potteries in the United States, by comparing the assemblages at two Late Archaic period shell rings on the northeast Florida coast, Rollins Shell Ring (8DU7510) and Guana Shell Ring (8SJ2554).1 The sites are just 25 miles (40 kilometers) apart, and they occupy similar environments: extensive estuaries west of the rings and beach resources nearby to the east (figure 9.1). However, the two sites are in distinct river drainages. Rollins is north of the St. Johns River in the Nassau River drainage and Guana is south of the St. Johns in the Guana River drainage. Hypothetically, the distinct drainage areas may have defined the geographic boundaries for the communities that built the rings, which we interpret as venues for feasting and other ceremonial activities (Saunders 2002, 2004a, 2004b). Rings were built “through feasting” (sensu Dietler and Hayden 2001, 9) by both local folk and, presumably, extralocal guests. The huge quantities of shell, which were sculpted into specific shapes, and the elaborately incised Orange pottery that was discarded in the rings (as ceremonial trash; Walker 1995; see also Wallis this volume; Wheeler and Carr this volume) were the result of “considerable labor to craft both places and obj ects for communal ritual” (Spielmann 2008, 38).

Stimulated by Spielmann’s (2002, 2008) discussions of specialized craft production of ritual objects in small-scale societies, we asked whether specialists might have been involved in the production of Orange pottery for use in Archaic shell rings. This article contains the preliminary results of our search.

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