Ceramics are probably the most frequently used type of artifact for dating purposes within historical archaeology. The chronology of seventeenth and eighteenth century ceramics has been well documented (see Noel Hume 1970). The mean ceramic dating technique devised by South (1977) has also been useful in dating sites of this period.
Unfortunately the chronology of nineteenth and twentieth century ceramics is not well understood. Recently, however, Price (1979), Lofstrom (1976), and Lofstrom, Tordoff, and George (1982) have attempted to put these ceramics into a more precise chronology. None of these authors, however, have dealt with materials dating from the very late nineteenth or early twentieth century. For this period we have relied on the work of Adams (1981) , Ramsey (1947), and Watkins (1950).
Table 2 presents all ceramic types found at the Sites Homestead with their respective date ranges given on the right. These date ranges are generally the broadest span given by the various authors although the end dates for plain and molded whiteware and white pasted stoneware have been extended to 1950. This seems a much more reasonable date then the commonly 1900 or 1900+ for these wares (see above under plain white wares) and it was hoped that this would aid in the mean ceramic formulation at this site.
Table 2: Calculation of Mean Ceramic Date
|Ceramic Type||Vessel Count||Date Rage||Mean Date|
|Blue Transfer Printed Whiteware||3||1830-1860||1845|
|Red Transfer Printed Whiteware||1||1830-1870||1850|
|Green Transfer Printed Whiteware||2||1830-1870||1850|
|Brown Transfer Printed Whiteware||1||1830-1870||1850|
|Flow Blue Transfer Printed Whiteware||1||1840-1870||1855|
|Gold Transfer Printed Whiteware||1||1901-1930||1915.5|
|Printed and Painted Whiteware||1||1840-1860||1850|
|Floral Painted Whiteware||2||1830-1870||1850|
|Blue Shell Edged Whitware||7||1830-1860||1845|
|S tamped Whi teware||1||1840-1870||1855|
|Stamped and Painted Whiteware||1||1840-1870||1855|
|Lead Glazed Earthenware||1||1825-1875||1850|
|Plain White Pasted Stoneware||9||1850-1950||1900|
|Brown Slipglazed Stoneware||5||1830-1890||1860|
|White Slipglazed Stoneware||1||1896-1905||1900.5|
|Sponge Decorated Saltglazed/
The mean ceramic date calculated from this sample is 1874. This date is
sigificantly earlier than the mean date of circa 1895 suggested by historical documentation. The reason for this discrepancy is unclear, but it may relate to
a number of factors, including changing refuse disposal habits, less intensive occupation in later periods, and inaccurate ceramic date ranges. Terminal date ranges for nineteenth and twentieth century ceramics are especially problematic due to a lack of research in this area.
To conclude, the ceramics suggest an occupation beginning near the mid-nineteenth century and ending during the early twentieth century. The single pearlware vessel was probably a family heirloom. The ratio of the different ceramic types at this site (with the exception of the twentieth century wares) falls close to assemblages dated between 1850 and 1890 by Price (1979:30).
Glass artifacts (particularly bottle) are probably the second most important material for the dating of historic sites. Noel Hume (1970), Lorrain (1968), and Deiss (1981) have given detailed discussion on the evolution of glass technology (see also Davis, 1949; Ferraro and Ferraro, 1964; McKearin and McKearin, 1950). Unfortunately, the Sites Homestead assemblage does not include many particularly diagnostic glass items (especially lips and bases).
Generally, the glass containers suggest a second half of the nineteenth century occupation. Several necks have non-applied lips and indicate the use of a lipping tool, or 1860-1920'5 manufacture. Several panel patent medicine bottles were recovered. These bottles are manufactured beginning about 1867 and were quite popular until the turn of the century. The several mason jar sherds post date 1858, and the milk glass lid liners post date 1868.
Pressed glass tableware and holloware were common and popular by the mid-nineteenth century, although none of the mid-century "Lacy" patterns were recovered. Although there was a trend toward a preference for clear glass (to better show contents) through time, glass color is not an especially good temporal indicator. However, a number of amethyst sherds suggest the use of mangenese as a clearing agent, and date circa 1880-1920.
Window and lighting glass are also of some temporal significance. Kerosene lamps, represented by lamp chimney and perhaps lead lantern sherds, appeared in the 1860'5. All of the window glass was either of the cylindrical or cast plate type, with no crown glass. This suggests a date of post 1850 and the lack of distortion in most of the window glass suggests a much later date.
Nails are also useful for chronological determination. This has been particularly true after the work of Nelson (1968). At the Sites Homestead 296 machine cut nails, 84 wire nails, and three wrought nails were recovered. These suggest an occupation date of no earlier than 1830 and extending into at least the early twentieth century. The ratio of wire/cut nails is 84/296 or .28. This falls between sites dated from circa 1850-1910 and circa 1880-1945 at Waverly, Mississippi (Adams 1981:553,587) .This correlates nicely with the suggested date by historical documentation.
Very few other artifacts from this site were temporally significant. Exceptions include two horseshoe fragments (ca. 1862), a clay marble (ca. 1700-1930), a white clay pipe bowl (ca. 1835-1875), six cartridge shells (1850+) , a plastic screw cap (1930+) , and a 1901 Indian head penny. All of these items support a temporal span from approximately mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century.