Defining Attributes

Coulbourn is a late Early to early Middle Woodland ware, characterized by a temper of clay nodules or fragments, and cord-marked or net- impressed exterior surface treatments. Defined types include Coulbourn Cord-Marked and Coulbourn Net-Impressed.


Stratigraphic sequences and radiometric dating indicate that Coulbourn dates from ca. 500 B.C. A.D. 1. 


Coulbourn is found primarily along the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Coast drainages, as well as on the southern Delmarva Peninsula, in Kent and Sussex counties. It has also been found in the Upper Eastern Shore region of Maryland.


The temper consists of inclusions of fired clay or crushed ceramic sherds.

Surface Treatment
Exterior surfaces are cord-marked or net-impressed. Griffith and Artusy (1977:15) noted that the orientation of cord-marking on sherds recovered from the Wolfe Neck site is most commonly perpendicular to oblique, but also includes horizontal marks or a combination of the three styles. A combination of horizontal and perpendicular marks is the norm on Coulbourn Net-Impressed sherds. Interior surfaces range from scraped-over cord or net impressed, totally scraped, smoothed-over scraped, to completely smooth. The most commonly encountered treatment is scraped.


Coulbourn is coil-constructed with paddle malleation. Vessels have a conoidal shape, with direct rims. Lips are flattened, rounded, and mostly smooth, but some have been found with net or cord impressions. Vessel wall thickness ranges from 7 mm 14 mm, with a mean of 10 mm. Vessel walls are thick and uneven.

Defined in the Literature. Coulbourn is an Adena Complex ceramic. Custer (1984) and Griffith and Artusy (1977) have noted similarities to Wolfe Neck and Popes Creek ceramics.

Type Site

Maryland Sites with Coulbourn components
Nassawango (18WO23)*

* collections at the MAC Lab

Radiocarbon Dates


Sample #




2240 + 60; B.C. 290


Wilgus, DE (7S-K-21)

Coulbourn/Wolfe Neck

Artusy 1976

2325 + 60; B.C. 375


Wolfe Neck, DE (7S-D-10)


Griffith and Artusy 1977:15


Custer 1983; Griffith 1982; Griffith & Artusy 1977


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Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab
Updated:  3/1/09