Townsend Series are Late Woodland to Early Contact-period
wares, characterized by shell temper, fabric-impressed exterior
surfaces, and various decorative motifs. Defined types include Rappahannock
Fabric-Impressed, Rappahannock Incised, Rappahannock Plain, Townsend
Herringbone, and Townsend Corded-Horizontal.
Stratigraphic sequences and radiometric dating
indicate that Townsend wares date from ca. A.D. 950 – A.D. 1600.
Townsend wares are found throughout the Coastal
Plain region of Maryland and Virginia, and throughout southern Delaware.
Minor amounts of Townsend are also found into the Piedmont region.
The paste of the Townsend wares is compact and fine, but poorly
mixed. Temper consistsof relatively finely crushed,unburned
shell (usually ribbed mussel or oyster),often partially leached,
which comprises 10% - 20% of the paste. Blaker (1963:14)
noted that inclusions appear frequently as coarse, subangular
grains of white quartz sand, ranging in size from very fine to
4 mm thick. Other inclusions include small nodules of bright orange
ocherous clay. Townsend wares have a Moh’s scale hardness of 2.0
- 2.5. Color ranges from an oxidized reddish buff through orange,
brown, gray, and tan. Reddish-tan and buff colors are predominant
in the southern portion of its distribution.
Exterior surfaces of Townsend Series wares are fabric-impressed,
often utilizing a fabric-wrapped paddle. Impressions appear as parallel
rows of weft impressions placed perpendicular, oblique, or parallel
to the rim. Occasionally exterior surfaces are smoothed afterwards,
but without obliterating the fabric design. Interior surfaces are
Many vessels in the Townsend Series show some form of decoration.
The majority of sherds are incised with a broad shallow line, directly
cord-impressed, or cord-wrapped stick (psuedo-cord) impressed. All
decorations occur on the exterior below the lip of the rim.
Rappahannock Plain is undecorated and Rappahannock
Fabric-Impressed has no decoration other that lip nicking. Rappahannock
Incised is decorated with a blunt tool. Incisions are U-shaped in
cross-section, 1.5 mm to 2.5 mm wide and 1 mm to 2 mm deep. Griffith
(1982:57) noted eight variations based on decoration:
1. Horizontal bands
2. Horizontal bands surmounting single, discrete lines
3. Horizontal bands surmounting any combination of two or
more discrete lines of any type
4. Horizontal bands surmounting complex geometric shapes (zig-zags,
squares, or triangles)
5. Square, horizontal, oblique, or vertical lines
6. Discrete horizontal, oblique, or vertical lines
7. Complex geometric designs (squares, triangles, zig-zags)
8. Horizontal bands with overlying embellishments.
Townsend Corded-Horizontal is decorated with direct
cord-impressions made with a twisted cord, pseudo cord-impressions
made with a cord-wrapped stick on wet plastic, or pseudo cord-impressions
made over pseudo cord-impressed oblique lines. Townsend Herringbone
has Pseudo cord-impressions in horizontal bands over incised herringbone
or zig-zag patterns.
Townsend wares are coil-constructed. Fractures are found along coiling
planes, which are horizontal to markedly oblique, the latter condition
apparently the result of amalgamating the coils. Vessels generally
have elongated conoidal body shapes, though they are sometimes globular,
with circular necks. Bases are occasionally rounded, but more commonly
are conoidal or semi-conoidal. Base sherds show evidence of coil
construction. Rims are direct, ranging from everted through perpendicular
to inverted. Folded or thickened rims are rare, but have been found.
Lips are rounded, rounded and flattened, or rarely squared. Vessel
size ranges from miniature pots to large cooking vessels. Miniature
pots average 3.8 cm in height and 4.4 cm in diameter. Larger vessels
average 20.9 cm in diameter and 26 cm in height. Vessel wall thickness
is fairly thin, ranging from 5 mm - 10 mm.
Defined in the Literature
The Townsend Series was first described by Blaker (1963:14-21) from
pottery excavated in the 1940s from the Townsend site, located a
short distance inland from Lewes, Delaware. She identified three
wares from this site: Townsend Incised, Townsend Corded Horizontal,
and Townsend Herringbone. She also expanded upon the work done by
Karl Schmitt, who had previously named and identified Rappahannock
Fabric Impressed as a minority ware from the Potomac Creek site
(44ST2). Blaker subdivided Schmitt’s group into two more wares,
Rappahannock Fabric Impressed and Rappahannock Incised. Daniel Griffith
(1982) further refined Blaker’s work by reclassifying the Townsend
Series and identifying four categories based on decorative motifs.
Egloff and Potter (1982:108-109) later noted that Rappahannock Fabric-Impressed
and Rappahannock Incised were identical to Evan’s (1955) Chickahominy
Fabric-Impressed and Chickahominy Incised, and suggested that those
names no longer be used.
Maryland sites with
Waveland Farm (18AN17)*, Duck’s Run (18AN546)*, Locust Neck (18DO117)*,
Piscataway (18PR7), Thomas Point (18ST570)*, Cumberland (18CV171)*
*collections at the MAC Lab
|710 + 80;
+ 70; A.D. 1290
Blaker 1963; Egloff
and Potter 1982; Griffith