University of Minnesota
Department of Anthropology
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Glossary of Technical Terms

Unless otherwise mentioned, impressions on vessel surfaces like stamping, trailing, and cordmarking were made before firing when the surfaces were still plastic. The presence of engraving and incising is rare (or perhaps nonexistent) in Minnesota prehistoric ceramics. The glossary emphasizes terms useful in describing the results of the manufacturing process rather than the manufacturing process itself (e.g., firing atmospheres, the preparation of pastes, and so forth).

Assemblage: In Minnesota the term is used in two general senses. In one usage, the term refers to the pottery from a single archaeological culture in a site, such as the assemblage of Laurel ware from the Smith site. In the second usage, the term refers to all of the pottery at a site, such as all of the pottery from the multiple component Smith site. The reader has to be alert to which of these two senses of the term is being used in a particular context.

Attribute: A characteristic of a pottery jar, such as type of temper, shape of lip, or surface treatment. Types and wares are recurring sets of attributes at different levels of abstraction.

Banding: The presence of one or more decorative strips encircling the rim of a jar. Bands on Minnesota jars are generally filled by or caused by some sort of decoration. Banding is a common decorative motif in many Minnesota Initial Woodland and Terminal Woodland wares and in Great Oasis ceramics of the Mississippian ware cluster.

Base: The bottom of the jar, which in Minnesota can be conoidal (pointed), sub-conoidal (ovoid), globular (rounded), or flat. Basal sherds are usually the thickest parts of a jar.

Beveled Lip: A beveled lip slants inward or outward, as opposed to being rounded or flat. While the lip on some Initial Woodland ware vessels (Howard Lake, Malmo) is beveled inward, the lip on some Terminal Woodland/Mississippian ware vessels (Blackduck, Grant, Great Oasis, Onamia, St. Croix Stamped) is beveled outward.

Body: As used here, the body of a jar is that part of the jar below the neck, where a constricted neck is present, or below the lip, where a constricted neck is not present.

Body Sherd: A fragment (sherd) of the body of a vessel, as opposed to a rim sherd, where a distinctive rim is present. In Initial Woodland vessels without a constricted neck and distinctive rim, the upper part of the body just below the lip is often referred to (somewhat confusingly) as the rim of the vessel (rather than the upper body). Since most assemblages of pottery at a site consist of broken pieces of pots, undecorated body sherds (also spelled bodysherds) make up the great majority of pottery fragments in an assemblage.

Boss: A small, protuberant, usually rounded, outward extension of an exterior vessel wall caused by a deep interior surface punctuation. Bosses on Minnesota jars are usually on the rim. They are considered an attribute of decoration. In Minnesota, bosses occur most frequently on Initial Woodland wares (Black Sand, Fox Lake, Howard Lake, Laurel, Malmo, and Sorg), but are present as well on some Terminal Woodland wares (Blackduck, Lake Benton, St. Croix Stamped, and Sandy Lake).

Bowl: A concave nearly hemispherical vessel that is wider than it is deep, used to hold food or fluids. Bowls have been reported in Blue Earth, Brainerd, Grant, Howard Lake, St. Croix Stamped, Sandy Lake, and Silvernale pottery assemblages.

Brushing: In Minnesota, parallel vertical lines on exterior rim surfaces caused by dragging grass or some other material down the rim surface. Brushing is considered an attribute of decoration. The difference between combing and brushing needs to be clarified, for some archaeologists use the terms as synonyms (e.g., brush-combed) and others as referring to separate processes that can be visibly distinguished by the coarseness of brushing and the fine striations of combing. Vertical combing/brushing on the exterior rim surface of vessels is present in Bird Lake, Blackduck, Clam River, and Kathio wares.

Burnishing: A method used to smooth the exterior surface of a vessel that involves rubbing a smooth object like a stone on the surface. The result is a polished but not glossy surface. Besides polishing the surface, the process strengthens the surface bonds of clay particles. Burnishing (or polishing) is found on some Mississippian cluster Cambria and Silvernale ware vessels.

Carved Paddle: Surface treatment made by a paddle whose surface has been carved. In Minnesota, carved patterns are largely restricted to broad, parallel lines (simple stamped) or a diamond pattern of indentations (check stamped).

Castellations: The presence of multiple, regular, raised sections along the lip of a rim that resemble turrets along the wall of a castle. In the Upper Mississippi River valley castellations, collars, and squared mouth orifices are attributes of some Final Late Woodland pottery, especially Grant ware.

Ceramics: Used here to refer to the range of items made by firing clay, such as figurines, ornaments, jars, and tools like anvils (as compared to pottery, which we restrict to fired clay containers).

Check Stamped: A diamond pattern on the exterior body surface of vessels caused by a paddle with a thong-wrapped paddle or a paddle with a grooved paddling surface. In Minnesota, check stamping is present on some Terminal Woodland Sandy Lake pots in the central and northern parts of the state.

Clay: The American Ceramic Society defines clay as “a fine-grained rock which, when suitably crushed and pulverized, becomes plastic when wet, leather-hard when dried, and on firing is converted to a permanent rock-like mass.”

Coiling: Hand-building technique for making jars that involves forming and joining narrow coils or ropes of clay to build up the walls of a vessel.

Collared Rim: A rim that has been intentionally thickened to produce a visible collar, usually on the external surface of the upper rim. In the Upper Mississippi River valley, collared rims are most frequently found on late Terminal Woodland Grant ware vessels.

Color: The color of a vessel usually refers to the color of the exterior surface of the vessel, but can refer to the color of the paste, so care must be taken in understanding how the term is being used in a particular context. The color of a vessel, which is most often due to the color of the clay and the particular firing atmosphere in the manufacturing process, is most often recorded using general terms like orange or gray, but can be recorded more exactly using a Munsell color chart.

Combed: The visible attribute on the exterior surface of a vessel that results from dragging a toothed implement down the plastic surface of the exterior rim surface, producing a band of evenly spaced striations. Combed is usually considered an attribute of surface treatment. The difference between combing and brushing needs to be clarified, for some archaeologists use the terms as synonyms (e.g., brush-combed) and others as referring to separate processes that can be visibly distinguished by the coarseness of brushing and the fine striations of combing. Vertical combing/brushing on the exterior rim surface of vessels is present in Bird Lake, Blackduck, Clam River, and Kathio wares.

Comb Stamping: Stamping on the rim of vessels made by a tool with small, triangular, tooth-like projections. Comb stamping leaves a row of small evenly spaced impressions that resemble dentate stamps except for their triangular, tooth-like appearance. Comb stamping is an attribute of decoration. Comb stamping is found in St. Croix Stamped ware.

Conoidal: Base of a jar that is shaped like or nearly like a cone.

Constricted Neck: A jar has a constricted neck when a distinct rim is present and the diameter of the rim/body juncture (the neck) is less than the maximum diameter of the body. Constricted necks are most clearly associated with Terminal Woodland and Mississippian vessels with distinct rims, rounded shoulders, and rounded or sub-conoidal bases.  

Cord Impressed: Decoration caused by impressing single cords onto the still soft surface of an unfired jar. Also called single cord impressed. Cord Impressed decoration is a characteristic attribute of some types of Terminal Woodland Grant and Madison ware. The term is sometimes used to refer to any kind of decoration caused by impressing a cord or multiple cords onto the soft surface of an unfired vessel, such as single cord impressed, cordwrapped-stick impressed, and even textile impressed. In this latter sense, cord impressed decoration is a common form of decoration in Initial and Terminal Woodland wares.

Cordmarked: A characteristic exterior surface treatment of many Woodland wares that results from hitting the surface with a cordwrapped paddle during the manufacturing process. Cordmarking is rare on Mississippian cluster vessels and when present is usually partially smoothed over. The term is less often used to refer to cord rolling and other corded impressions (e.g., single cord impressed, cordwrapped-stick impressed) on the surface of a vessel. Also referred to as cord roughened.

Cordmarked/Smoothed: A surface treatment in which the cordmarking of the manufacturing process has been partially obliterated by smoothing, which produces a somewhat plain surface. Some wares that have types with plain surfaces, such as Howard Lake, Great Oasis, and even Blue Earth, have evidence of occasional cordmarked/smoothing.

Cord Rolled: Usually tight parallel cord impressions caused by rolling a dowel wrapped with cord over the vessel surface during the manufacturing process to shape the vessel. In Minnesota, cord rolling is most clearly associated with Lake Benton ware.

Cord Roughened: A less often used synonym for cordmarked.

Cordwrapped Paddle: The great majority of prehistoric pottery jars in Minnesota were produced by coiling or molding, and then shaped by paddling the surface against an interiorly held anvil with a cordwrapped paddle. Besides evening-out the surface, the paddling produced a roughened exterior surface that made the pot easier to hold. The presence of the cordage kept the paddle from sticking to the still plastic surface of the vessel.

Cordwrapped Paddle Marking: A common surface treatment in Minnesota caused by striking the exterior surface of a jar with a paddle or stick wrapped with cordage. The treatment leaves overlapping cord impressions on the surface. It may have been used to create a surface bond between clay coils as part of the manufacturing process and to give texture to the exterior surface of the jar.

Cordwrapped Stick: A narrow, elongated stick or other object, such as a bone, that was wound with cord and then stamped on the surface of a vessel, leaving an impression in which the twist of the cordage is visible. Some archaeologists prefer the term cordwrapped object impression (CWOI), since it is usually impossible to tell if a stick or some other object was wound with cord.

Cordwrapped-Stick Impressions: Punctations or tool-impressions on the surface of a jar caused by a stick wrapped with cordage. Cordwrapped-stick impressions are largely confined to rim and lip surfaces in Minnesota, and are a common technique of decoration on both Initial and Terminal Woodland vessels.

Crosshatched: A band of criss-cross decoration on the lip or exterior surface of the upper rim that is made most often by trailing. Crosshatched decoration is most common on Cambria, Great Oasis, Howard Lake, Linn, and Sorg wares.

Curved Rim: A rim that is arched, bowed, or curvilinear in cross section, as opposed to straight. Most curved rims in Minnesota are curved outward, though some inward curved rims are present in Sandy Lake ware. Outwardly curved rims are most common in Terminal Woodland/Mississippian wares like Blue Earth, Grant, Lake Benton, Linn, Madison, and Silvernale, though some Initial Woodland Brainerd vessels also have a slightly curved rim.

Decoration: Attributes, such as bosses, punctations, and trailed lines, added to the surface of a jar to embellish it. Decoration on jars in Minnesota may have been more symbolic (of lineage or clan identity, for example) than decorative in a purely art-for-art’s sake sense. 

Dentate Stamping: Stamping caused by the use of a tool resembles a comb that has a row of somewhat square or rectangular teeth. The tool may be made of carved wood, bone, shell, or some other “toothed” material. Stamping is considered a decorative technique. Dentate stamping is most common in Initial Woodland wares, such as Fox Lake, Howard Lake, Laurel, Linn, Malmo, and Sorg. It persists into transitional Initial/Terminal Woodland wares like Lane Farm Cord-Impressed, Onamia, and St. Croix Stamped, with Lake Benton a later exception.

Everted Rim: A rim, either curved or straight, that leans outward. Usually considered synonymous with flared rim.

Fabric Marked: Like cordwrapped paddle marking, but the paddle is wrapped with sections of woven fabrics rather than a single cord.

Flared Rim: A rim, either curved or straight, that leans outward. Usually considered synonymous with everted rim, though the word “flared” often has the implication of a greater degree of outward leaning and even curving.

Form: A general word for the shape of some part of a vessel, such as the shape of the lip, the shape of the cross-section of the rim, and the shape of the body (conoidal, sub-conoidal, globular or rounded).

Globular: A roughly rounded vessel shape, as compared to conical, subconoidal, or flat-bottomed shapes.

Grit Temper: A nonplastic crushed granite inclusion that is deliberately added to clay to improve workability and to reduce rapid shrinkage or expansion during the firing process. All Minnesota prehistoric vessels have grit tempered, except for some Terminal Woodland (Sandy Lake) and Mississippian (Blue Earth, Silvernale) wares, which have shell temper or an admixture of shell and grit temper. Sandy Lake vessels can have only grit, an admixture of grit and shell, or only shell temper.

Grog Temper: A nonplastic inclusion of crushed pottery that is deliberately added to clay to improve workability and to reduce rapid shrinkage or expansion during the firing process. Grog temper has been recognized in a few Mississippian cluster Cambria and Great Oasis vessels. The presence of grog may be unrecognized in the pastes of other wares because of its similarity to the clay of the paste itself, and because of the much easier recognition of grit and shell as a temper (i.e., a casual glance at a sherd will more readily focus on grit or shell rather than clay-colored grog).

Hachured: The presence of fine lines in close proximity mainly to give an effect of shading.

Hardness: The hardness of a vessel surface as measured against some scale like Moh’s scale of hardness, which ranges from 1 (very soft) to 10 (very hard). Sherds in Minnesota ceramic assemblages range between 2.0 and 4.5 on Moh’s scale, with measurements between 3.0 and 3.5 the general modal measurement.

Horizontal Cordmarking: A surface treatment on the exterior surface of vessels in which the cords run around the circumference of the vessel, as opposed to a vertical or oblique orientation. Horizontal cordmarking is a feature of some Initial Woodland Fox Lake ware vessels.

Incising: A form of surface decoration that involves dragging or drawing a sharp, narrow instrument, such as a knife or stylus, across leather hard clay. The cross-section of an incised line is usually V-shaped.

Intaglio: The image in relief on the interior side of the shoulder of a vessel caused by the pressing downward of a decorative instrument on the exterior surface. In Minnesota intaglio images are present on some Silvernale vessels.

Jar: In Minnesota, an upright, wide mouthed ceramic container with a simple globular or cone shape. Except for the earliest jars in the state, most jars have a clearly recognizable shoulder, neck, and rim. The maximum diameter of the rim of these latter vessels is narrower than the maximum diameter of the shoulder.

Leather hard: The dried but not rock-hard paste of a vessel before firing. As we use the term, incising involved the dragging or drawing of a sharp, narrow instrument, such as a knife or stylus, across the leather hard clay of a vessel before firing.

Line Decoration: Decoration that consists of straight and/or curved lines that are created by trailing, engraving, or incising. Line decoration can be present on the shoulder, lip, and/or rim interior and exterior of vessels. This means of decoration is common in Mississippian cluster wares and in Initial Woodland wares like Black Sand and Fox Lake. Line decoration in Minnesota consists almost exclusively of trailed line decoration.

Linear Stamp: A narrow, long stamp that has roughly parallel lengthwise sides made by either a plain instrument or a toothed instrument like a dentate stamp. As opposed to linear push-pull lines, a linear stamp impression was made by pushing the stamp into the vessel surface rather than pushing and pulling the instrument. The term linear stamp is most explicitly applied to Initial Woodland Brainerd ware. However, the form itself is present in many other Woodland wares, where it is disguised by terms that refer to the stamping instrument itself (e.g., dentate stamp) rather than to the shape of the stamped impression.

Lip: The edge of the vessel orifice where the inner and outer surfaces meet. In Minnesota, lips are generally rounded, flattened, or crenulated.

Lip Form: The shape of the lip in cross-section, which can be rounded, flattened, or beveled, among other forms, such as rounded-thickened and castellated.

Loop Handle: Clay handle with a rounded cross section. Loop handles are generally attached to the rim and upper shoulder of a jar and come in opposing pairs.

Lug: A clay projection, either raised or applied, that protrudes from the side of a vessel. When intended to be functional, paired lugs could be used to lift the vessel. In Minnesota lugs have been most consistently associated with Mississippian-cluster Cambria ware.

Mississippian: A cluster of ceramic wares (Blue Earth, Cambria, Great Oasis, Orr, Silvernale, Ogechie) that are associated with farming communities in southern Minnesota and areas to the south that date after A.D. 950. Although found mainly in central Minnesota, Ogechie ware is very similar to southern Orr and Blue Earth wares. The archaeological cultures these wares are associated with are often divided into finer categories like Middle Mississippian (Silvernale), Upper Mississippian (Blue Earth, Orr), and Plains Village (Cambria, Great Oasis). 

Modeling: A method of making a vessel that involved pinching, punching, and otherwise working a mass of clay into the shape of the vessel. The mass of clay was then finished by using the paddle-and-anvil technique to shape and thin the walls of the vessel.

Molding: A method of making a jar that involves pressing slabs of clay into or onto a mold. The slabs were then worked to smooth and join them together.

Mortuary Vessel: In Minnesota, pottery vessels in burial contexts are generally identical to vessels used in day-to-day activities. However, in some archaeological cultures, such as Laurel, mortuary vessels contexts are smaller, more crudely made, and more extensively decorated than vessels used in day-to-day activities.

Motif: The design of a decoration, such as a chevron, triangle, or encircling band of decoration.

Neck: When present, that part of a jar between the shoulder and rim. The neck is usually the most constricted part of the upper half of a jar.

Net Impressed: A form of surface treatment in which the cordage on the shaping paddle was in the form of a net, as opposed to wound cord (cordmarking). Exterior surface net impressions are a diagnostic trait of some Initial Woodland Brainerd ware vessels. The same as net marked.

Net Marked: Like cordwrapped paddle marking, but the paddle is wrapped with sections of a woven net rather than a single cord. The same as net impressed.

Node: An outward or upward swelling or enlargement on the lip of a jar. In Minnesota, nodes are occasionally present on Blue Earth ware vessels.

Notching: An indentation on the lip of a vessel. Notches may be rounded or V-shaped, among other shapes. They are made by a variety of tools, including a plain dowel or cordwrapped-stick.

Oblique Cordmarking: A surface treatment on the exterior surface of vessels in which the cords are at an oblique angle to a perpendicular line drawn through the middle of the vessel from the base to the middle of the vessel mouth. Oblique cordmarking on the exterior surface of vessels is found on Initial Woodland Brainerd ware and the type La Moille Thick.

Ovoid Stamp: Stamp decoration in the shape of an oval. Ovoid stamps are most frequently found on Initial Woodland Howard Lake ware in southeastern Minnesota and Terminal Woodland Bird Lake and Duck Bay wares in far northern Minnesota.

Paddle and Anvil Technique: A finishing technique that involves beating the exterior surface of a vessel with a paddle against a stone or clay anvil held against the interior surface. The process thins and shapes the walls of the vessel.

Paste: The clay material from which a jar is made. Many clays contain natural mineral inclusions that may or may not be removed or pulverized during the manufacturing process.

Plain Surface: A smooth vessel surface. The plain surface may be the result of smoothing over a surface struck with a cord, net, or fabric wrapped paddle or of using a manufacturing process that used a plain paddle.

Polishing: A finishing technique that involves rubbing a vessel surface with a hard tool, such as a stone or piece of pottery, to produce a uniform and glossy surface.

Pottery: Used here to refer to fired clay containers, in particular jars and bowls.

Pseudo-Scallop Shell Stamping: A technique of stamp decoration in which an instrument that is notched alternately on opposite sides is pressed into the vessel surface. Pseudo-scallop shell stamping is largely confined to Initial Woodland Laurel ware in Minnesota, but may be present on some Initial Woodland Malmo vessels.

Punctate: A depression in the surface of a vessel caused by pushing a tool straight down into a still moist vessel surface (as compared to a slanting tool impression).

Push-Pull: A technique of decoration in which a narrow instrument, which can be plain or toothed, is pushed into the plastic vessel surface, partially pulled out and dragged a short distance and pushed in again in a repetitive pattern. The result is a line of push-pull impressions. The term push-pull is also variously called stab and drag and drag stamp, among other expressions. Push-pull decoration is most commonly found in Initial Woodland Laurel ware but also occurs at times on Initial Woodland Malmo vessels.

Rim: The upper part of a vessel near the orifice. Where a neck is present, the rim is that part of the vessel between the neck and lip. In Minnesota, rim forms are fairly simple, with most either straight, inverted, or everted.

Rim Form: The shape of the rim in cross-section or profile, which may be straight or curved to varying degrees and of differing thickness and length measurements. Since rim form is often one diagnostic of a pottery ware, rim profiles, which include both rim shape and size, are usually included in a report of a ceramic assemblage.

Rim Sherd: A fragment of a vessel from the rim. Since Woodland vessels are most often decorated on the rim rather than the shoulder, a Woodland rim sherd generally contains more stylistic information than a bodysherds.

Rocker Stamping: Impressions made by rocking a dentate stamped tool back and forth on the vessel surface to form a “saw-toothed” design. Like stamping in general. Rocker stamping is considered a decorative technique.

Series: A term used by some archaeologists for a group of related types within a ware that may be either contemporary or chronologically related at least in part.

Shell Temper: Nonplastic inclusions of crushed shell that is deliberately added to clay to improve workability and to reduce rapid shrinkage or expansion during the firing process. Shell tempering is a characteristic of some Mississippian-cluster wares (Blue Earth, Orr, Silvernale) and of some Terminal Woodland Sandy Lake vessels.

Sherd: Fragment or piece of broken jar. These fragments are generally referred to as a lip sherd, a rim sherd, a neck sherd, a bodysherds, or a base sherd. These general types of sherds are usually separated by type for analysis.

Shoulder: In Minnesota, vessel shoulders are considered that part of a vessel between the widest extent of the body of the vessel and the neck. The term is generally not applied to vessels that lack a clearly defined neck.

Simple Stamped: A pattern of roughly parallel ridges on the exterior body surface of vessels caused by a paddle with a thong-wrapped paddle or a paddle with a simple grooved paddling surface. In Minnesota, simple stamping is present on some Terminal Woodland Sandy Lake pots in the central and northern parts of the state.

Single Cord Impressed: Decoration caused by impressing single cords onto the still soft surface of an unfired jar. Also called cord impressed. Cord Impressed decoration is a characteristic attribute of some types of Terminal Woodland Grant and Madison ware.

Slip: A runny mixture of clay and water spread over the surface of a vessel. A slip is applied to affect the color of a vessel surface, to strengthen bonds between coils, or to create a smooth vessel surface, or for some combination of these and other reasons. In Minnesota a slip has been found on some Malmo and Silvernale ware vessels. 

Smoothed: A finishing technique that involves rubbing the leather-hard surface of a vessel with a hard tool, such as a stone or potsherd, to produce a smooth but non-glossy surface.

S-Shaped Rim: A rim with a compound curve in its cross-section that looks more or less like a soft S. S-shaped rims are found on some Plains Village Cambria and Great Oasis vessels and on some Terminal Woodland Duck Bay vessels.

Stab and Drag: Same as the push-pull technique of decoration.

Stamping: Generally relatively small impressions in the surface of a vessel that are wider than they are deep (by definition, punctates are deeper than they are wide). Stamped decoration was created by a wide variety of instruments, including dentate and toothed stamps and cord-wrapped sticks, and may have been pressed into the surface at an angle or perpendicularly. The term stamping is most often associated with Woodland ceramics.

Straight Rim: A profile of a rim that is straight along a mid-line from neck to lip, whether the rim itself is everted or inverted.

Strap Handle: A handle of a vessel that has a strap or flattened shape. Like loop handles, strap handles are generally attached to the rim and upper shoulder of a vessel and come in opposing pairs. Strap handles are present on some vessels in the Mississippian cluster of wares (Blue Earth, Ogechie, Orr, Red River, Silvernale).

Sub-conoidal: A rounded cone shape. In Minnesota, the term is applied to the shape of the base of a vessel. In developmental trajectory, subconoidal bases are intermediate in time between vessels that have a conoidal and globular shape.

Surface Treatment: The exterior surface treatment of jars, which may be smoothed, cord-marked, paddled with a craved paddle, polished, or slipped, or some combination of these techniques. The surface treatment of a vessel removes irregularities, evens surface contours, and gives the surface texture when corded.

Tab: A short projecting piece of clay on the shoulder of a jar that may have been used in lifting the jar.

Temper: Nonplastic inclusions, such as grit (crushed granite), shell, or sand, that are deliberately added to clay to improve workability and to reduce rapid shrinkage or expansion during the firing process.

Thickness: The length between the two surfaces of a part of a vessel, such as a bodysherds, the base or rim, and the inner and outer edges of the lip. In most instances, the base and neck of a vessel are the thickest parts of a vessel. The walls of vessels in prehistoric Minnesota gradually became thinner through time.Vessel thickness is nearly always measured in millimeters (mm).

Tool Impression: A plain impression in a vessel surface similar to a punctation, but made by impressing a plain tool downward at an angle rather than vertically, which leaves a somewhat elongated, sloping impression. The term tool impression is usually used in association with some Mississippian cluster wares (Blue Earth, Great Oasis, Ogechie).

Trailing: A technique of decoration that produces roughly flat-bottomed, parallel-sided, plain lines on the surface of a vessel (in contrast to V-shaped incisions). Trailed lines were made by drawing a tool across the still damp and pliable surface of the vessel before firing. Trailed line decoration is found in Initial Woodland (Black Sand, Fox Lake, Malmo), Terminal Woodland (Angelo Punctated, Howard Lake, Sandy Lake, Sorg), and Mississippian-cluster (Blue Earth, Cambria, Great Oasis, Ogechie, Orr, Red River, Silvernale) wares.

Type:  In order to reduce large quantities of pottery sherds to a small number of manageable categories, archaeologists group sherds together on the basis of shared attributes, such as temper, decorative treatment, surface treatment, form, and presumed function. In Minnesota, jars within the same type look more or less alike. Types are subcategories of wares. Both types and wares may have no relationship to jar categories in the mind of the maker’s of the jars.

Type Site: The archaeological site at which a pottery ware was first identified.

Variety: Variation within a type that is most often related to technique of decoration (e.g., dentate stamp vs. trailed), surface treatment (cordmarked vs. smoothed) rim form (straight vs. s-shaped). The word variety is sometimes used as a synonym for type.

Vertical Cordmarking: A surface treatment on the exterior surface of vessels in which the cords are parallel to a perpendicular line drawn through the middle of the vessel from the base to the middle of the vessel mouth. Vertical cordmarking on the exterior surface of vessels is the most common type of cordmarking.

Vessel Form: The shape of a vessel, usually the body itself rather than the complete vessel.

Ware: A grouping of jars that share attributes of the constituents of the manufacturing and decorative process. In Minnesota, jars within wares are separated into types based primarily on kind of decorative technique and decorative pattern, though other attributes within a ware are occasional used to define types. Like types, wares are archaeological constructs and may be far removed from the grouping concepts (if any) used by the people who made the jars.

Wash: A watery solution of a particular color that is applied to the exterior surface of a vessel to give it that color. 

Woodland: Those ceramic wares in Minnesota that are not part of the Mississippian cluster. The Woodland tradition itself is generally divided into Early, Middle, and Late or Initial and Terminal periods. At one time hunter-gatherer Woodland peoples were separated from Mississippian maize farmers, but that division, while mainly correct, is too simplistic, for some Late Woodland peoples in southern Minnesota associated with Madison and Grant wares grew some corn and wild rice was a functional counterpart to corn in the state’s Northwoods. Likewise, Woodland pottery was once thought to share grit tempering and cordmarked surface treatment compared to the shell tempering and plain surfaces of Mississippian wares, but that division has proven to be too simplistic, too.

Zoned Decoration: Discrete, often curvilinear, panels of decoration on the rim or shoulder of a vessel that do not encircle the vessel like bands of decoration. Zoned decoration is a characteristic of some types of Initial Woodland Howard Lake and Sorg wares.