Minguannan is a Late Woodland ware, characterized
by sand, quartz, or grit temper, cord-marked or fabric-impressed
exterior surfaces, and broad line, incised direct cord and pseudo
cord decorations. Defined types include Minguannan Plain, Minguannan
Compound Decorated, Minguannan Incised, and Minguannan Corded.
Stratigraphic sequence dating indicates that Minguannan
dates from ca. A.D. 1200 – A.D. 1650 and is contemporary with Shenks
Ferry and Townsend wares in Delaware.
Minguannan is found throughout northern Delaware,
southeastern Pennsylvania, and the Piedmont and Coastal Plain region
of northern Maryland at the head of the Chesapeake Bay.
The paste is variable and the temper consists of crushed grit, sand
or quartz. No comprehensive descriptions of the paste are found
in the published literature.
Exterior surfaces are commonly smoothed, but smoothed-over cord-marked,
and smoothed-over fabric-impression examples have been found. Interior
surfaces are smoothed.
Many Minguannan vessels show some form of decoration, and four distinct
types have been identified. Custer (1984:149) notes that decorations
found on the Minguannan vessels are similar to, but slightly more
complex than, Townsend designs. All decorations appear on the exterior
below the lip of the rim.
Minguannan Plain has no decoration other than cord-wrapped
stick impressions on the lip. Minguannan Incised is predominantly
decorated with broad-line incising and occasional narrow-line incising.
Griffith and Custer (1985:11) note six variations based on decoration:
1. Discrete horizontal and oblique lines;
2. Horizontal bands surmounting single, discrete lines;
3. Horizontal bands surmounting any combination of two or more discrete
lines of any
4. Horizontal bands surmounting complex geometric shapes (zig-zags,
5. Square, horizontal, oblique, or vertical lines;
6. Horizontal bands with overlying embellishments.
Minguannan Corded decorations consist of pseudo
cord-impressions and to a lesser extent direct cord impressions.
Designs range from direct cord-impressed bands to complex geometric
designs such as squares, triangles, and zigzags. Minguannan Compound
Decorated designs are made with either incised lines or cord-impressions
in horizontal bands that surmount any combination of two or more
Minguannan ware is coil-constructed with paddle malleation. Vessel
shape is conoidal with perpendicular, everted, or inverted rims.
Vessel wall thickness ranges from 4.5 mm – 9 mm.
Defined in the Literature
The name Minguannan comes from the Minguannan site (36CH3) located
in Southern Chester County, Pennsylvania, that was first excavated
by Elwood Wilkins (1978) and the Archaeological Society of Delaware.
Griffith and Custer (1985) later refined the definition of Minguannan
based on decoration. Griffith also notes that design motifs used
to decorate Minguannan vessels are remarkably similar to those used
on Rappahannock Incised vessels in Delaware. Minguannan pottery
has been identified on several Maryland sites in the upper reaches
of the Chesapeake Bay, in Cecil and Harford Counties, but is not
a major ware in this area.
None in Maryland.
Custer 1984; Griffith
and Custer 1985; Wilkins