Our Summer 2011 UIUC Archaeology Field School on Edgefield, SC Pottery Communities was featured in the National Register of Historic Places’ Archaeology Month publication for this year.
The first innovation and development of alkaline-glazed stoneware pottery in America occurred in the Edgefield District of South Carolina in the early 1800s. It remains an enduring mystery as to how these new ceramic methods were developed in that place and time, and how the techniques of clay choice, temper, and glaze developed over the following century. These potteries employed enslaved and free African-American laborers in the 19th century, and the stoneware forms also show evidence of likely African cultural influence on stylistic designs. Edgefield potteries thus present fascinating research questions of understanding technological innovations and investigating the impacts of African cultural knowledge on a rural industry during the historic period in America. Among other accomplishments, our 2011 Field School participants uncovered and recorded a kiln of remarkable scale at the Pottersville site.