Key’ teleleta

Key’ teleleta

Think about it (study it)

Clay vessels have distinct characteristics. Their size, shape, and decoration record details about their uses as well as the people who made them. Other information is hidden from view. 

Scientific analysis of the materials used to make pots can reveal a vessel’s chemical fingerprint and provide information on the origins of clay and temper. When shellfish grow, they absorb elements from the surrounding water. Shells that grew in different water have a different chemical fingerprint. 

In partnership with the University of Missouri and Kentucky Archaeology, researchers are comparing the chemical composition of whole mussel shells to the composition of mussel shell temper found in pottery fragments collected from 15 ancient settlements in the Middle Ohio Valley. 

In the future, the chemical fingerprint may be able to be compared to the Fort Ancient style pottery found in historic Shawnee villages along the Savannah River. 

  • Did the mussel shell come from one source or many?
  • Did people carry pots as they moved and traveled, or make and use them in place?
  • How are the pots in historic Shawnee villages related to the pots found in the Middle Ohio Valley?