Woodland Period Archaeology

Ceramic Artifacts

Early Woodland people changed the course of Virginia Indian history when they began to create the first pottery in the region, pottery that archaeologists call Marcey Creek ceramics.  These sherds are pieces of those first few vessels that were crafted by Native hands.   The vessels were made by directly emulating the method for making soapstone bowls during the Late Archaic. Crushed bits of soapstone were mixed into the clay as temper.  The slab of clay was then carved out to produce a vessel, similar to how soapstone bowls were carved out in the center.  This continuity is how archaeologists know that ceramic technology was developed by Indians in Virginia, instead of being introduced by trade or migration of other groups. 

 

The Early Woodland people realized that they could use clay for different purposes. They began to produce tubular ceramic pipes like these ones for smoking tobacco. In this period, tobacco cultivation would only have meant occasional (but persistent) nurturing of wild tobacco plants.  Over the course of the next two thousand years, this practice grew into a more intensive cultivation of tobacco and other crops in agricultural villages.