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  • Interesting Ceramic Artifact

    I’ve been focused on this piece the past few days. When I found it on a RI beach, way back when, the 90’s I imagine, I assumed it was native. Then I decided the pottery was too dark brown. Where I found it is located quite near the only location that has ever produced an abundance of small pottery sherds, and they are nowhere near this dark.

    So, for apparently(I decided) no real good reason, I dismissed its native origin for years. Been showing it to experienced friends and we all agreed that of course it’s a piece of Native American shell tempered pottery. I mean really, of course it is.

    Pottery is very rare in RI and SE Ma. Soil is too acidic. In the Ct. River Valley, a different story, pottery is not rare, and further west in Ct., Red finds his share. But not here, and this is an intact artifact. Come right down to it, it’s likely one of the rarest things I could expect to find in these parts.

    So, what is it? Well, it looks very much like a spindle whorl, raised on one side, flat on the other. But, I don’t know enough about such things to make a call. The interior of the hole is irregular, tough to see in the photos. Don’t know if that makes any difference with a spindle whorl. Maybe it’s a ceramic bead instead.

    So let’s take a look at it. This is the raised side. Notice there are a total of 6 “indents” or “facets”, molded by the maker’s fingers. You can even see the fingerprints in some of the “indents”.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	1A277AA3-D8D6-4DD5-AFE0-1DB9F4A2904C.png Views:	6 Size:	1.65 MB ID:	543018 And here is the flat side. Note the preserved fingerprints...

    Click image for larger version  Name:	3206C159-F459-4FD5-8DF1-7B2A5884B58E.png Views:	6 Size:	1.64 MB ID:	543019

    The profile. Spindle whorls often have such a profile...

    Click image for larger version  Name:	0F712B61-222F-4E33-A5A9-FBD4565A3961.png Views:	6 Size:	1.61 MB ID:	543020

    Now, the entire time I’ve owned this, I’ve been focused on the pattern of 6 indents, and the way cool presence of preserved fingerprints. But, last night I realized there was another pattern, formed by the ridges or borders between indents. These borders can be seen as lines extending from the central hole, to the border. Furthermore, and this is key to my realization that this other pattern existed, 5, possibly all 6, of the lines curve toward the border.

    Look closely at this image. Starting with the curved line at the 9 o’clock position, on the left, and counting clockwise, one can see 5 curved lines. The 6th, at about the 7 o’clock position is a bit smudged, or thicker with pottery, and it’s hard to tell if it’s curved. I can’t really get better photos that would show all 6 lines, but look closely and you should see what I am getting at:

    Click image for larger version  Name:	B75F9EAD-D210-456B-8511-C9B56C19F5E1.png Views:	6 Size:	1.57 MB ID:	543021 Just to show the very obvious curvature:

    Click image for larger version  Name:	ADA313C3-B46A-4DEA-BE3E-5733267759AF.png Views:	6 Size:	1.64 MB ID:	543022 With allowances for the 6th line being unclear, this is what I am seeing as the pattern visible on the raised side:

    Click image for larger version  Name:	9F51B89C-9367-4809-B38C-9F6AC7E69E52.jpeg Views:	6 Size:	118.4 KB ID:	543023
    Believe it or not, the very first thing that popped into my head was a solar image from the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex.

    https://peachstatearchaeologicalsoci...omplex-symbols

    Specifically, stuff like this. Not exact, there is no cross on my piece, but very remindful of a solar image:

    Click image for larger version  Name:	C86A491E-E484-4175-8F75-AD98534EF45E.jpeg Views:	6 Size:	106.1 KB ID:	543024Now, I am not saying this image is proof of contact with that Southeastern complex. But it’s probably not impossible, either. We have representations or manifestations of other cultural movements from outside our region. Like Adena.

    All I know is that this seems reasonable to interpret as a solar image. Of course I could be mistaken. But, in impressing the 6 facets or indents on the top of the piece, I do believe the curvature of the “lines”, running from central hole to the border, was a deliberate choice by the maker. Until last night, I had always just focused on the indents with their fingerprints, and missed this possible image altogether.

    Next, I need to see how widespread such solar images, as seen in the symbols of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex, were among the tribes in North America.

    Anyway, that’s the story of how I recently came to see this piece in a new light. And appreciate it as one of the rarest pieces I have personally found.










    Last edited by CMD; 03-23-2021, 08:19 PM.
    Rhode Island

  • #2
    I think your on to something looks like a large bead or pendant .

    Comment


    • #3
      That’s a sweet find...Prints are always a plus
      Floridaboy.

      Comment


      • #4
        Those two items are very interesting .
        Let me throw something out there to ponder.
        Do you think that they could be body adornment?
        I found two similar spools here in Texas that I had no other explanation for other than earspools.
        The other could be a gouge, but it's not near sharp enough. It could also be a nose ornament. (to fill the space after piercing.)
        Or for that matter for an ear ornament as well.
        Way cool, thanks for sharing.
        FGH

        Comment


        • CMD
          CMD commented
          Editing a comment
          There is only one, not two, objects shown. Yes, I think it could be a personal adornment, such as a bead. Not sure about use as an earspool, but I guess it’s possible.

      • #5
        It is very unique Charlie. It has the personal touch , with fingerprints. Hopefully the mystery will be revealed.
        South Dakota

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        • #6
          Originally posted by SDhunter View Post
          It is very unique Charlie. It has the personal touch , with fingerprints. Hopefully the mystery will be revealed.
          Thanks, Gary. I should add that the guess of a solar image is just that. A guess. It might just be a simple design that the maker favored, and not represent anything on a symbolic level. But, yes, the personal touch is a pretty cool thing to be preserved.
          Rhode Island

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          • #7
            I'm kind of speechless CMD. I don't see any usage ware around the hole. So I don't think it was tethered. I think and this is also a guess, But it may be an object from a Shamans bag. As I under stand that salt water is a good preserver of things like pottery, and that is why it survived. In my opinion it is a Museum quality Artifact. Too cool man, everything about it makes it precious! Kim
            My heart is looking up, my eyes are looking at the ground. Snyder County Pa.

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            • #8
              Originally posted by Mattern View Post
              I'm kind of speechless CMD. I don't see any usage ware around the hole. So I don't think it was tethered. I think and this is also a guess, But it may be an object from a Shamans bag. As I under stand that salt water is a good preserver of things like pottery, and that is why it survived. In my opinion it is a Museum quality Artifact. Too cool man, everything about it makes it precious! Kim
              Thanks. Found high in the sands of a beach with lots of shells, and therefore lime. I think that likely helped with preservation. And, like you said, maybe salt water preserves better. Actually, thinking about it, I don’t remember if it was above, or below, the high tide line, but still lots of lime shells. . Color just fooled me. Much darker brown than other sherds. I understand temperature clay is fired with will regulate the color. Shaman kit is a cool thought for sure.
              Rhode Island

              Comment


              • Mattern
                Mattern commented
                Editing a comment
                Well there is salt in the air there. I found one piece of pottery at the shore one time well preserved. As for color, The clay definitely has a lot do do with it. also temp. the hotter the lighter. And another thing I found by experimenting is if there are green twigs or green wood contacting the pot it will leave a dark spot or color on the entire piece.

            • #9
              I think what you're interpreting as the design being planned is just a result of the direction they pinched the raw material. I thought spindle whorls were bigger? My guess is a bead, and shell tempering would put it in pretty late woodland period. Very neat!

              Comment


              • CMD
                CMD commented
                Editing a comment
                That “coincidental” is a possibility, esp. since the thumb’s outer edge is curved to begin with. On the other hand, the impressions are somewhat narrower than a full direct thumb print, and narrower at the hole, and wider at the border, so some deliberate shaping seems likely as well. Since the design can in fact be seen, and pinwheel style sun images are known, I may still lean toward recognition of a solar symbol by prehistoric Americans. If each indent was a simple thumbprint, without concern with shape, I might lean coincidental. It’s difficult for me to do that in this instance, if only because pinwheel sun symbols are not unknown in general....

            • #10
              That's a cool little find Charlie....very unique...the finger prints are an awesome detail!
              SW Connecticut

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              • CMD
                CMD commented
                Editing a comment
                Yeah, the human touch, literally, is something you can get with pottery. I have some sherds with fingernail impressions, for instance, created by simply using a fingernail to create a series of short, curved lines arranged horizontally. Anything that reflects the human who made a piece is pretty cool to see, and something one might expect to see on some ceramic pieces.

            • #11
              Awesome artifact. Tools and points are cool but a personal item can speak loudly through the mist of time. It’s meaning may be lost to us but the fact it survives and has us pondering it says it’s still fulfilling its original purpose. It’s makes the imagination kick into overdrive. Very special find you have there.
              👍😃
              Last edited by Uncle Trav; 03-28-2021, 08:26 AM.
              Uncle Trav- Southwest Michigan

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              • CMD
                CMD commented
                Editing a comment
                Thank you.

            • #12
              Fantastic relic, very nice find.
              Near the PA/Ohio state line

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              • #13
                Good eye. I may have let that one slip by me. But I recognize it now. I think your hypothesis has some legs to it. Wayyyyy above my pay grade. I hope, someday you'll solve the mystery
                Western Kentucky

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                • #14
                  Charlie this is an amazing find!! I’ve never even found so much as a sherd of pottery! These are the ones you cherish!
                  Can’t find em sitting on the couch; unless it’s in a field

                  Comment


                  • CMD
                    CMD commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thanks, Ben. Just took photos of each indent, and was able to confirm the 6th line, blurred over a little by excess pottery, is in fact curved like the other 5. I believe the curvature represents the leading edge of the maker’s thumb, or index finger, if it was used rather than thumb. The similarity in shape of all 6 indents has to be deliberate, but, again, the sun symbol suggestion is just speculation.

                    Yes, I only had one site that spit out pottery sherds. A very sandy portion of the site, with lots of lime rich shell refuse pits. I think those two conditions allowed the sherds to survive.

                • #15
                  That is an awesome artifact Charlie
                  TN formerly CT Visit our store http://stores.arrowheads.com/store.p...m-Trading-Post

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