Continuity, adaptation and resistance: the cultural contexts of the manufacture, distribution and use of African American pottery in eighteenth-century Charleston, South Carolina

Brian D. Crane, James Blackman, Pamela B. Vandiver

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article

Abstract

Analysis of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century earthenware sherds found on the site of the Heyward-Washington House in Charleston, South Carolina has provided important clues concerning the manufacture, trade and use of a poorly understood tradition of African American pottery. These hand built, low-fired earthenwares, which archaeologists call colono wares, are abundant on archaeological sites, but they are virtually unknown in the historical record. Analyses included neutron activation analysis, xeroradiography, and petrographic analysis in addition to visual inspection. These data suggested that colono wares were transported to Charleston from rural plantations, where their manufacture was part of a widespread, informal cottage industry. The manufacture and use of this pottery appears to reflect the development of African American culture as a creole culture which drew upon a wide variety of traditions, reinventing and recombining these elements in ways designed to cope with the rigors of slavery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-551
Number of pages13
JournalMaterials Research Society Symposium - Proceedings
Volume352
StatePublished - Dec 1 1995
Externally publishedYes
EventProceedings of the 1994 Conference on Materials Issues in Art and Archaeology IV - Cancun, Mex
Duration: May 16 1994May 21 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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