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Pots made from clay, also called ceramics, were commonly used by American Indians in North Carolina after 1000 B.C. As with spear points, the durability and abundance of pottery makes it useful for dating and interpreting archaeological sites. Pottery styles and production techniques changed over time, which allows archaeologists to use pottery for dating sites. Pottery styles also varied by region, which makes it a useful cultural marker as well.

Archaeologists generally refer to these styles as “pottery series” and associate them with archaeologically defined cultures or historically identified tribes.  The Cherokee pottery shown below was made in the late 1800s by Cherokee potters living in western North Carolina.  The Catawba pottery was excavated from historically documented Catawba sites along Catawba River just south of Charlotte.  One bowl (RLA catalog number 2176p3) was purchased from a Catawba potter living in western North Carolina in 1882.  Pottery of the Fredricks series came from the Fredricks site near Hillsborough, NC, and is attributed to the Occaneechi Indians of the early historic period (A.D. 1680 – 1710).  Oldtown series pottery came from multiple sites along Dan River in Stokes County, NC, and is attributed to the Sara Indians of the late precontact and early historic periods (A.D. 1450 – 1710).