Hello, I am Nicole Isenbarger and I am the Lab Director and ceramicist for the project. I’m currently in the field helping assist the field school and I’m having a great time working with the students and the team!
The early and short occupation span at the Lord Ashley Site gives us a rare opportunity to look at cultural interactions during the formative years of the colony. The settlement was a plantation, trading post and fort, resulting in interactions between British agents, Irish indentured servants, enslaved Africans of unknown origins, as well as free and possibly enslaved people from different Native American groups. One of the artifacts that allow us to gain a better understanding of these interactions is the locally produced earthenwares. These ceramics, commonly known as Colono Ware, refers to all non-European low fired, hand built earthenwares produced by both free and enslaved Native Americans and Africans that are found in colonial sites of the eastern United States. Culture plays a major role in pottery production as it influences and dictates how each culture adapts and changes their technology through time. An understanding of not just pottery production, but also of each individual culture that interacted at the Lord Ashley Site will allow us to see changes in the pottery at the site.
The 2011 field school excavations uncovered a total of 1073 locally produced earthenwares. Historic period Native American types that we identified include McKee Island Cord Marked, Ashley, Historic Aboriginal, and Chattahoochee Roughened wares. Lesesne Lustered and Yaughan wares are most commonly found on plantation sites of the eighteenth century and are usually attributed to African American influence and use. These are some of the earliest examples of Lesesne Lustered and Yaughan wares in South Carolina and since we know that there were fifteen adult Africans on site in 1681 we are excited that these wares could be associated with them. But, more work needs to be done to fully understand these wares. So far, we have a general idea of the various peoples and pottery traditions that interacted with one another at the site. This year we hope to uncover a larger amount of Colono Ware that will allow us to further study the pottery traditions to possibly identify wares that show the sharing of traditions.