Functional and stylistic analyses of ceramic vessels from mortuary features at a 15th and 16th century Caddo site in northeast Texas

Functional and stylistic analyses of ceramic vessels from mortuary features at a 15th and 16th century Caddo site in northeast Texas

Perttula, Timothy K


I discuss the function, form, style, and technology of a 15th and 16th century Titus phase Caddo vessel assemblage from the Mockingbird site (41TT550) in northeast Texas. Differences exist between vessel forms in firing methods, size, and volume; probable use (as discerned from use wear, Booting, and charred organic remains adhering to vessel surfaces); and whether they were decorated, undecorated, and/or covered with a clay-rich slip. Analysis of engraved rims on carinated bowls and compound bowls compares the representation of different motifs at the site to nearby Titus phase cemeteries, as well as to other Titus phase cemeteries on Big Cypress Creek, to examine the broader affiliation of the Caddo peoples living at the Mockingbird site. This vessel assemblage, and others from contemporaneous Caddo societies, hint at regional differences between Caddo peoples in the treatment of the dead and in Late Caddo (post-A.D. 1400) views on life and death.


Eleven Late Caddo period burial features were excavated in 1990 and 1994 at the Titus phase Mockingbird site (41TT550) (Perttula et al. 1998) in northeast Texas (Figure 1). The numbers and kinds of grave goods found at the Mockingbird site are apparently much the same as those found with Late Caddo period burials at other well-documented Titus phase cemeteries (Bell 1981; Thurmond 1990; Turner 1978) and are dominated by ceramic vessels of different shapes, sizes, and decorations. Eighty-nine ceramic vessels were among the grave goods included with the 11 burials. The number of vessels per burial ranged from 3 to 16, with an average of 8.1 vessels per grave. This range, average, and overall quantity is generally comparable to other Titus phase graves in the Big Cypress Creek drainage basin (Perttula 1992; Perttula and Nelson 1998:Table 23; Thurmond 1990; Turner 1978).

In this article, I examine the function, form, style, and technology of the Titus phase vessel assemblage. Specifically, my concern is the differences between the vessel forms: how they were fired, variations in size and volume, how they were probably used (as discerned from use wear, Booting, and charred organic remains adhering to vessel surfaces), and whether they were decorated, undecorated, and/or covered with a clay-rich slip. The analysis of engraved rims of carinated bowls and compound bowls compares the representation of different motifs at the Mockingbird site to nearby Titus phase cemeteries, as well as to other Titus phase cemeteries on Big Cypress Creek, to examine the broader affiliation of the Caddo peoples living at the Mockingbird site

I also draw upon the results of neutron activation analysis, petrographic analysis, phytolith analysis, and organic residue studies. These studies have obtained important information on the manufacture and function of the Mockingbird site vessels and provide some direct evidence for how the vessels may have been used during the life of the individual they accompanied, and, perhaps in the case of the phytolith and residue studies, information as well on how the vessels were intended to be used by the deceased (cf. Parsons 1941:37).

This analysis can provide insights into the belief systems and patterns of ritual behavior held by the Late Caddo Titus phase peoples who lived some 350 to 500 years ago. Much of the archaeological information on Late Caddo mortuary practices in northeast Texas was obtained either during the 1930s, when excavations of any kind were generally not well documented, or from general and sketchy information obtained principally from avocational archaeologists who had learned about looted cemeteries from pothunters (see Nelson and Perttula 1997). Furthermore, few prehistoric Caddo cemeteries have been located by professional archaeologists since the mid-1960s, despite the ever-increasing number of survey and excavation projects in northeast Texas. Thus, the Mockingbird site represents one of the very few well-documented Late Caddo cemeteries in northeast Texas.

Although the Mockingbird site burials are well documented, because of the acidic, sandy soils at the site, none of the mortuary features contained any preserved human skeletal remains. Inferences about age and sex are by necessity based on grave good associations (i.e., the kinds and quantities of different objects placed in the burial pits) and comparisons with the Tuck Carpenter site (41CP5), the only Titus phase cemetery for which we have age and sex information for a large number of individuals (Turner 1992).

Caddo Indian ethnographic studies indicate that the burial goods placed with individuals at death represent a sampling of items used and possessed in life, and a recognition by the Caddo that such burial goods would be needed in the deceased’s next life (Parsons 1941; Swanton 1942:204). In an archaeological sense, therefore, the funerary objects found in Caddo burials document

small and discrete slices of time. They provide evidence of contemporaneity for various kinds of objects that are also found in other contexts at sites where they may have become mixed with artifacts from many separate occupations…[Features that are the result of single or short-term activities like burial pits…have always been and continue to represent the sources of information that are building blocks for numerous other studies. [Early 1993:49]

Burial Groupings

The 11 burials at the Mockingbird site may represent 40-50 percent of the total number of mortuary features in the cemetery. The cemetery probably covered about 250 m^sup 2^ and is estimated to have contained approximately 20-25 individuals, perhaps in three north-south rows (Figure 2).

Using shared ceramic style associations of vessels from different burials with identical or nearly identical engraved motifs, the kinds of funerary objects, and their placement with the burials, three burial groups (Groups I-III) are defined for the burials at the Mockingbird site. The row arrangements, the placement of grave goods, and similarities to other Titus phase burials strongly suggest that the burials were placed in the graves in an extended, supine position with the head at the east end of the grave (facing west) and the feet at the west end (cf. Turner 1978:52).

Group I includes burials 3, 6-8, and 11, located in the middle and easternmost burial rows (Figure 3). The three Group II burials-Burials 4, 5, and 10-are situated at or near the southern end of each of the rows, with Burials 2 and 3 to the south of Burial 5 along the middle row. Burial 9 is the only burial included in Group III, and it was placed at the northern end of the middle row, with Burial 1 about 1 m to the north.

The graves in Group I fall into two sizes and shapes: (1) large and wide ovals, placed near the south ends of burial rows (Burials 3 and 11); and (2) short and narrow pits with the same east-west orientation, closely spaced along a row of burials (Burials Cr8). Ceramic style associations among the engraved wares with the Group I burials were numerous (Table 1 ), particularly certain continuous scroll and scroll and semicircle Ripley Engraved rim motifs. Ceramic vessels, arrow points (all stemmed examples), elbow pipes, and ceps were common funerary objects in Group I burials. Neither arrow points, elbow pipes, nor ceps were well-represented offerings in the Group II or III burials. The association of pipes (usually associated with adult males), arrow points, and/or ceps as grave goods/personal possessions in Burials 6, 8, and 11 strongly suggests these individuals were adult Caddo males.

Group I burials also contained other unique funerary objects: quartz crystals, vessels with pigments, and lithic flakes and artifacts found in an occasional vessel (Table 2). There is also diversity in the placement of grave goods in the Group I burials: along the center of the grave (Burials 3 and 7); on the north and south sides of the grave as well as in the center (Burial 6); on the north and south sides and near the feet (Burial 11 ); and in the middle of the grave and near the feet (Burial 8). Burial 11 also had a distinctive, light gray, sand-silt fill placed on the floor and in the center of the grave prior to the burial pit being refilled with a dark brown sandy loam mottled with clay (Figure 4).

The three Group II burials shared distinctly executed Ripley Engraved scroll and semicircle engraved rim motifs, and Burials 4 and 5 both had deep, conical, red-slipped Simms Engraved vessels. The graves themselves were all about the same size and shape, with similar quantities of ceramic vessels. The vessels were rather uniformly placed in rows along the north and south sides of each grave (to the right and left of the deceased individual), although Burial 10 also had vessels in the center of the grave, probably between the legs, like several of the Group I burials (Table 2).

At the nearby Titus phase Tuck Carpenter site (41CP5), the funerary objects were placed in the burials in a similar manner to the Group II burials at the Mockingbird site. Most, if not all, of the funerary objects in adult male burials tended to be placed in a row along the north, or right, side of the body (Turner 1992), while placement on the south side of the body was apparently preferred for adult females. If a similar situation pertained at Mockingbird, Burial 5 (Figure 5) was that of an adult female and Burial 10 of an adult male. Burial 4 had equal amounts of funerary objects along both the right and left sides of the burial pit.

The single burial in Group III was distinctive in that only a few funerary objects were placed with the deceased (Table 2). Furthermore, the rim motif on the single engraved vessel is unlike any from either the Group I or II burials. Three characteristics of Burial 9 link it closely with the Group I burials, however. First, the Burial 9 pit size, shape, and orientation in the middle north-south row is comparable to Burials 6-8, also in the same row (Figure 3). Second, only Burial 9 and Burial 11 in Group I share the placement of an apparently thin, light gray, sand-silt deposit on the floor of the grave. Finally, the placement of vessels near the feet of Burial 9, rather than in rows on the north and south sides of the body, is consistent with the diverse placement of grave goods that characterize the Group I burials at the Mockingbird site.

Age and sex information from burials at the Tuck Carpenter site indicate that adult males, adult females, adolescents, and children received different amounts and kinds of grave goods to accompany them on their death journey (Turner 1992). Patterns in these data were used in evaluating the possible sex and age of the burials from the Mockingbird site (Perttula et al. 1998:Tables 3, 4). Accordingly, Burial 2 (and possibly Burial 7) may be that of an adolescent, Burials 4 and 5 are those of adult females, and Burials 3, 6, 8, 10, and 11 are those of adult males. The likely age or sex of the individuals in the other burials cannot be more firmly determined. Possible adult females occur only in the Group II burials, while the adult males fall primarily in the Group I burials (Burial 10 contained only a possible male assigned to Group II). One of the Group I burials is that of an adolescent (Burial 7) that may be a male like the other Group I burials at Mockingbird, while the Burial 2 adolescent has not been assigned to any of the groups.

The possible adolescents at the Mockingbird site have proportionally more small vessels, whether they are jars or bowls, than the adult males and females. Neither possible adolescent has pipes, arrow points, or ceps. Adult females have equal proportions of bowls and jars, mainly medium-sized to large in volume, more conical bowls than either adolescents or adult males, and fall in the middle in terms of the numbers of vessel kinds and sizes. A single arrow point was recovered from one of the adult female burials (Burial 4). The possible adult males have a range of vessel kinds/sizes, along with all the ceramic pipes, 88 percent of the arrow points, and all of the Celts. All five of the pigment jars and dishes were placed in the graves of likely adult males.

Of the possible adult male burials, large carinated bowls and large jars are particularly common in Burials 8 and 11, as are pigment vessels (Table 2). Each of these burials also contains a single bottle. Burial 11 stands out in this group, and indeed among all the burials in the Mockingbird site cemetery, in having the highest number of vessel offerings (16 vessels), the most large and mediumsized carinated bowls, and (with Burials 8 and 9) the most large jars. It also has many more bowls (n=10) than jars (n=5), which seems to be a good indication of an adult male, while the ratio of bowls to jars in the remainder of the burials is roughly equivalent.

Chronology of the Burial Groups

It is entirely possible that all 11 Late Caddo burials at the Mockingbird site are roughly contemporaneous, falling within a 50-100 year span of time. It is difficult to separate Titus phase burials into temporal periods much less than 50-100 years in length, due in part to few radiocarbon dates from mortuary contexts (only one radiocarbon date had been obtained previously from Titus phase mortuary contexts [Perttula 1998]), and to poorly developed seriations of engraved rim stylistic motifs.

Six radiocarbon dates were obtained from the Mockingbird site to determine the overall age of the cemetery and assess the likelihood that the interments were contemporaneous. The samples for dating were obtained from charred organic materials preserved on the inside walls of four ceramic vessels and two pipes. The one-sigma calibrated radiocarbon results (following Method B in Stuiver and Reimer [1993a, 1993b] and including the relative area under probability distribution) are:

cal AD 1038-1172 (1.00), Burial 8, Group I, elbow pipe (Beta-99690)

cal AD 1433-1516 (.77), Burial 5, Group II, Vessel 3 (Beta-99689)

cal AD 1437-1517 (.71), Burial 11, Group I, Vessel 9 (Beta-99693)

cal AD 1507-1602 (.71), Burial 5, Group II, Vessel 1 (Beta-99688)

cal AD 1508-1602 (.62), Burial 9, Group III, Vessel 1 (Beta-99692)

cal AD 1509-1602 (.78), Burial 6, Group I, elbow pipe (Beta-99691 )

With the exception of the Burial 8 date on the elbow pipe, the radiocarbon dates comprise a reasonably consistent set for Titus phase contexts. Other acceptable Titus phase calibrated radiocarbon assays range between cal AD 1431 and 1680 (Perttula 1998), and those from the Mockingbird site fall nicely within that interval.

Taking the calibrated radiocarbon dates at face value suggests that the Mockingbird cemetery was used from ca. cal AD 1433 to 1602, with some of the burials perhaps dating to the middle and latter part of the 15th century (Burial 11) and others dating in the 16th century (Burials 6 and 9). The calibrated onesigma dates from two of the vessels with Burial 5 are not consistent, and because they overlap with the other set of three Titus phase dates, it is not possible to determine if Burial 5 is contemporaneous with Burial 11 or Burials 6 and 9.

The Ceramic Vessels from the Mockingbird Site

Information on a number of attributes was employed in the analysis of Mockingbird site ceramic vessel styles, function, and form: non-plastics; vessel form; core, interior, and exterior surface color; wall thickness; interior and exterior surface treatment; height and orifice diameter; diameter at bottom of rim and base diameter; volume; decoration; and type (Perttula and Tate 1998:34-36).

Sherds from several of the broken vessels were subjected to petrographic analysis (Skokan and Perttula 1998), and instrumental neutron activation analysis (Neff et al. 1998) was completed of 10 sherds from different vessels. Phytolith analysis (Mulholland 1998) was done on sediments within the different classes of vessel forms, while residue analysis of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes was completed on charred organic remains from seven vessels (Rogers 1998), 3 mg of charred remains being necessary for stable carbon analysis and 10 mg for the stable nitrogen analysis.

Vessel Form and Function

The 89 vessels or vessel sections in the Mockingbird site funerary assemblage include eight different vessel forms: carinated bowls (n=31), jars (n=29), compound bowls (n=9), conical bowls (n=8), bottles (n=8), ollas (n=2), cylindrical bowls (n=1), and dishes (n=1). With the exception of the vessel forms present in low numbers, at least one of each of the different basic ceramic vessel forms was placed as a burial object with the deceased. In the case of the carinated bowls, jars, compound bowls, and conical bowls, some of the Caddo burials had between four and seven vessels of the same form, usually placed side-by-side in rows along the sides and feet of the deceased.

The different vessel forms exhibit a wide range of vessel sizes and kinds of decorations, particularly among the carinated bowls and the jars, but for a Late Caddo period burial assemblage, there is also a high frequency of plain jars and bowls (19 percent). In contrast, vessel assemblages from generally contemporaneous Titus phase cemeteries have frequencies of plain vessels that range only between 3 and 10 percent (Thurmond 1990). Engraved vessels dominate the assemblage, with 52 percent of all vessels having engraved designs. For the various vessel forms, these percentages are: compound bowls-100 percent, cylindrical bowls-100 percent, bottles-88 percent, carinated bowls-81 percent, ollas-50 percent, and conical bowls-38 percent. Punctated, incised, brushed, and appliqued decorations, as well as combinations of these decorative treatments on the same vessel, are present on 29 percent of the vessels, occurring only among the jars. One vessel, a deep conical bowl resembling certain Simms Engraved vessels (e.g., Suhm and Jelks 1962:Plate 71e), is decorated only with a thick, red, hematite-rich slip on the interior and exterior surfaces.

Another common decorated vessel form at the Mockingbird site is an evertedrim jar with two to five rows of horizontal punctations on the rim (10.1 percent of the vessels); the body is plain. In Suhm and Jelks (1962:Plate 79d, k, n), these are considered untyped “rough” utility pottery or cooking vessels. Similar untyped utility jars are common at other Titus phase cemeteries accounting for between 4 and 13 percent of the vessels in the cemeteries at Tuck Carpenter (41CP5), Mattie Gandy (41FK4), H. R. Taylor (41HS3), and McKinney (41MR12); based on data in Thurmond (1990), they are probably even more common in domestic contexts. At Tuck Carpenter, this kind of punctated jar (with two to four rows of punctations) was present in 16 percent of the 45 reported graves, and several other jars had rows of rim punctations, but with body applique, brushing, and/or incising (Turner 1978:76). By comparison, 54.5 percent of the graves at the Mockingbird site have rim punctated jars.

Each of the eight distinctive vessel forms mentioned above is discussed in terms of major attributes of vessel form, function, use, firing environment(s), temper, orifice size, volume, surface treatment, and decoration (if any) (Table 3). Vessel forms are defined as:

carinated bowl: a bowl with two distinctive body sections, the upper (rim) with an expanding or changing contour and an unrestricted orifice, the lower a symmetrical body with a flat disk base. In most cases, the carinated bowl has a wider diameter (at either the carination or the orifice) than the height of the vessel.

compound bowl: this unrestricted-orifice bowl form has three distinctive body sections-the rim, shoulder, and body-one usually higher than the others (typically the lower body or the shouldered section of the vessel), creating a complex contour, and a flat disk base.

conical bowl: a form of bowl with an unrestricted orifice, one “whose wall contour remains unaltered from the rim to the base” (Klement et al. 1993:203), with orifice diameters generally greater than the height of the bowl, and a flat disk base.

cylindrical bowl: a deep and tall vessel with an unrestricted orifice and flat disk base. The vessel height is greater than the orifice diameter.

bottle: a vessel with a constricted and narrow-mouthed orifice, a long-necked or cylindrical rim, and bulbous body of variable shape (cf. Suhm and Jelks 1962:Plate 65b-d, f, h-j and Plate 78c-i, l), with a flat disk base.

olla: a vessel with a short, squat neck and small orifice, a wide, globular body, and a rounded to flat base.

jar: a vessel with a constricted orifice, a height greater than its width, evened rim, and a flat disk base.

dish: a shallow vessel with a low flat rim.

pigment vessel: a small or miniature jar that contain masses and/or residues of clay pigments (cf. Turner 1978:Figure 29g-k).

Carinated Bowls

Of the 31 carinated bowls in the Mockingbird site assemblage, six (19 percent) are plain and the other 25 (81 percent) have engraved motifs on the rim. With the exception of one engraved carinated vessel with a unique rim motif, 24 are varieties of Ripley Engraved. The carinated bowls are readily separable into three sizes: (1) those with volumes less than 275 ml (Figure 6a), vessel heights of 5-7 cm, and orifice diameters of 12-13 cm (Figure 6b); (2) medium-sized vessels with volumes between about 500 ml and 1.5 liters, heights of 7-14 cm, and 13 to 19-cm-wide orifice diameters; and (3) large vessels with volumes greater than 2 liters (up to 4 liters or more), heights greater than 18 cm, and orifice diameters ranging between 24 and 30 cm.

Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses of residues on several carinated bowl vessel sherds obtained mean values of-25.7+0.7%o for 8’3C and 2.33_+0.18%0 for delta^sup 15^N (Rogers 1998). These values are consistent with the cooking and/or heating of C3 woody plants (such as hardwood nuts) and legumes, but not maize, a C4 plant (e.g., Lambert 1997:132, 214-220).

Abundant and well-preserved phytoliths from the soils within the carinated bowls indicate that they may have contained grass inflorescences and/or corn cob chaff at the time they were placed in the graves. In particular, Mulholland (1998:299) notes carinated bowls with considerable numbers of grass silica cells, including Vessel 16 in Burial 11, with high proportions of rondel-shaped phytoliths, possibly from corn cob chaff.

The three small Ripley Engraved carinated bowls were found in Burial 2 and Burial 8 (n=2) (Figure 7c). They have direct or inverted rims, rolled lips, and flat bases, with burnished to polished exterior surfaces and smoothed to burnished interiors. Two were fired in a reducing environment, but the other was incompletely oxidized during firing. None of these vessels has any interior or exterior Booting or charred organic remains.

There are 12 medium-sized Ripley Engraved carinated bowls, three from Burials 10 and 11, two in Burial 6, and one each in Burials 3-5 and 7. About 42 percent (n=5) of these vessels have inverted rims, with rolled to folded lips, and flat disk bases (Figures 7b, 8b, and 9d, e). The remainder have everted rims, rolled (n=2) or exterior thickened and rolled (n=5) lips, and flat disk bases (Figures 7a, 8a, d, and 10a, b).

All of the inverted-rim, medium-sized carinated bowls are tempered with grog, although the two vessels from Burial 10, fired under reduced oxygen conditions, also have small amounts of bone temper. Interior and exterior vessel surfaces are smoothed to burnished, but not as well burnished and/or polished as the small or large Ripley Engraved carinated bowls. Three of the medium-sized, invertedrim Ripley Engraved carinated bowls show evidence of use, one with striations or abrasion marks on the interior rim and body (Figure 8b), and the other two with small patches of charred organic remains or Booting on vessel interiors (Figure 9d, e), suggesting they were used over a fire for the reheating and cooking of liquids and foodstuffs.

The two everted-rim, rolled-lip, medium-sized carinated bowls (Figures 7a, 8a) are burnished and/or polished on exterior and interior surfaces, have grog temper, and were probably fired in a reducing environment. Both also exhibit evidence of use, including striations and abrasion marks on the interior (from stirring actions?) and exterior encrustations on the Burial 7 vessel, and abraded and pitted areas on the interior surface of the vessel from Burial 5. Like the wellused inverted rim medium-sized vessels, neither of these evened-rim vessels has pigments smeared in the engraved design.

The five medium-sized carinated bowls with evened rims and rolled and exterior thickened lips (also beveled on the interior) are uniformly polished and burnished on exterior vessel surfaces, their interiors being either smoothed (Figure 10b) or burnished-polished (Figures 8d, 10a). The latter three also display a white kaolin clay pigment smeared in the engraved lines. All have grog temper and appear to have been fired in a reducing environment, and at least three were also cooled in a high-oxygen environment. None of these vessels was apparently used over fire, as they lack soot marks and charred organic remains.

Four of the eight large Ripley Engraved carinated bowls were found in Burial 11 (Figures 8c, 9a, b), with single examples in Burials 2, 4, 8, and 10 (Figure 10c, d). They have evened rims and rolled lips, burnished to polished exteriors, smoothed or burnished vessel interiors, and flat disk bases; Vessel 2 in Burial 11 also has a scalloped lip (Figure 9b), a rare treatment at the Mockingbird site. This vessel was incompletely oxidized during firing and has large amounts of grog and bone temper in its porous clay body. All other large carinated bowls were fired in a reducing environment, producing vessels with grayish brown to gray exterior colors.

Only two of the large Ripley Engraved carinated bowls (Figures 8c, 9b) have sooting or carbonized organic remains on their exterior surfaces, suggesting they were used over a fire. The lack of charred organics or carbonized residues on their interior surfaces suggests these vessels were probably used to reheat considerable quantities of liquids and cooked foods (each vessel has a volume exceeding 4 liters), but the other large carinated vessels must have been used for serving or holding foods.

Vessel 3 in Burial 8 is an untyped engraved carinated bowl (Figure 9c). It has an inverted rim, a rolled lip, and a flat base. It is a large vessel, with an orifice diameter of 21.5 cm, a volume of 3 liters, and a height of almost 15 cm. The vessel’s exterior surface is well burnished to polished, and white kaolin clay pigment is smeared in the engraved lines. The vessel contains no charred organic remains or exhibits no Booting.

The six plain carinated bowls include three large vessels with orifice diameters greater than 22 cm, and three medium-sized vessels with orifice diameters of 10.4-15 cm and estimated volumes less than 1 liter (Figure llb-d). Vessel heights range primarily between 6.5 and 11 cm for both sizes of plain carinated bowls, but the largest plain carinated bowl from Burial 6 stands 20 cm high. The plain carinated bowls have rolled lips and flat bases, and the rims range from evened to direct to inverted; these do not correlate specifically with the apparent size range differences. In general, the bowls are well fired under a reduced oxygen environment, are mainly gray and dark gray in color, and are tempered with grog. All are either smoothed or burnished on their interior and exterior surfaces; the vessels with carbonized remains are simply smoothed, but the others are well burnished, and one has a polished exterior surface.

Two of the plain carinated bowls have charred organic remains preserved on either the interior or exterior surfaces. These vessels were clearly used over a wood fire (cf. Hally 1983,1986; Skibo 1992), and, in one case-where the charred remains are preserved along the lower interior body wall (Figure l ld)-the bowl was used for cooking purposes (see Skibo 1992:151 ). Another vessel in Burial 8 has deep striations or abrasions (from stirring?) on the interior surface, but no charred organic remains.

Compound Bowls

The compound bowls occur in at least three sizes: (1) large, with orifice diameters greater than 20 cm and volumes over 2 liters; (b) a mid-range size, with orifice diameters between 14 and 18 cm and volumes from about 750 ml to 1.5 liters; and (3) small to miniature, with orifice diameters of ca. 10 cm and volumes less than 500 ml; these have rim peaks (Figure 6a, b). The larger compound bowls occur in Burials 5, 7, 9, and 11.

The compound bowls have evened rims with rounded to rolled lips and flat bases. They are burnished and/or polished on exterior surfaces and smoothed to burnished on their interiors. With the exception of one compound bowl, all were fired in a reducing environment. They are tempered with bone and grog. Only one vessel has any charred remains or soot marks that would indicate use over a fire (Figure 12d), and the charred remains or Booting occurred on the vessel’s interior and exterior rim and shoulder, as well as the exterior body. This suggests that compound bowls were rarely used for cooking or heating activities, but instead probably functioned for the serving of foods and liquids that left no obvious residues.

The nine compound bowls have engraved designs. In one case (Vessel 3 in Burial 1), the engraving is confined to the rim. This is a small compound vessel (10 cm in height) having four rim peaks. Turner (1978:75) notes that rim peaks on small compound vessels commonly occur in Titus phase contexts. This vessel also has an evened rim and a rounded lip, and is burnished on both interior and exterior surfaces. Unlike most of the vessels in the assemblage, it was low fired and incompletely oxidized and has large pieces of bone temper visible on its exterior surface. There is no sooting or charred organic residue on the vessel. The other miniature compound bowl (Figure 12a) may also have been fired in an oxidizing environment.

The remaining eight compound bowls have Ripley Engraved motifs on their shoulders and only one or two widely spaced, horizontal, engraved lines on their rims (Figure 12a-f). Of the five larger compound bowls from Burials 5, 7, 9, 10, and 11, three have a white kaolin clay smeared in the engraved lines, as do the two medium-sized Ripley Engraved compound bowls. Finally, two of the vessels in Burial 10 also have a red slip applied to exterior and interior rim and shoulder surfaces. Clearly, the larger Ripley Engraved compound bowls from these burials warranted more elaborate decoration and surface treatment than did the smaller compound bowls from all the other graves.

Conical Bowls

There are four different sorts of conical bowls from the Mockingbird site: smoothed or unfinished plain vessels (n=4); slipped, plain vessels (n=1 ); a small, engraved conical bowl with a simple rim motif; and Ripley Engraved vessels (n=2) with white or red pigments smeared in the engraved lines. This vessel form occurs in a variety of sizes and volumes, with orifice diameters ranging from 5.3 to 25.7 cm. They can be sorted readily into small (less than 200 ml), medium (1-2 liters), and large (2-4 or more liters) conical bowls (Figure 6a, b).

Phytolith samples from the conical bowls have fewer grass silica cells than do the jars or carinated bowls and more unidentified rod and rectangular or square forms (Mulholland 1998:302-303). The delta^sup 13^C/^sup 12^C ratio of -27.3o/oo for the charred organic remains on Vessel 3 in Burial 5 indicates that these are from C3 plants (beans and nuts are C3 foods, along with tubers), not maize, amaranth, or other C4 grasses (Rogers 1998).

The four plain and nonslipped conical bowls have direct rims and either rounded or folded lips, along with flat bases. They were made in three sizes: (1) miniature (3 cm in height), with small orifices; (2) medium-sized, with a height of about 14 cm and an orifice diameter of 18 cm; and (3) large, with orifice diameters of 2022.5 cm (about the same size as the larger carinated bowls and compound bowls) and vessel heights of 17.3 cm. They were all fired in a reducing environment and are smoothed on interior and/or exterior surfaces.

The larger conical bowls were used over fire, probably for cooking, based on charred organic remains on interior and/or exterior vessel surfaces. Vessel 1 in Burial 3 (Figure 11a) also has heat spans and striated and abraded use areas on the interior surface. They are well smoothed on interior surfaces, probably to lower their permeability and improve their heating effectiveness (Rice 1996:148). One vessel in Burial 11 has an inverted rim and a tapered and rolled lip, and is smoothed on the interior and exterior. Large deposits of charred organic remains on both surfaces suggest it was also used repeatedly over a fire. The charred remains on the interior surface are found on the rim and upper body. If from cooking activity, the remains occur where “the point of greatest heat [was] when the moisture is removed” (Skibo 1992:152). Given the association of miniature vessels (principally jars) with pigment containers, it is possible that the miniature bowl in Burial 5 contained pigments.

A unique kind of conical bowl is a large, red-slipped vessel 21 cm in height from Burial 5 (Figure 13a). It has an orifice diameter of 25.7 cm, an estimated volume of at least 3 liters, and is one of the larger non-jar vessels in the assemblage, In volume, height, and orifice diameter, it is comparable to the largest plain nonslipped conical bowls. It has the classic recessed rim of the Simms Engraved type (see Suhm and Jelks 1962:Plate 71e), although it is not engraved. It was fired under reduced oxygen conditions but cooled in a high oxygen environment and has no Booting or charred organic remains on either interior or exterior surfaces.

Two of the three engraved conical bowls are from Burial 4. They have Ripley

Engraved rim motifs-the horizontal interlocking scroll and scroll, respectivelyon direct rims with rolled lips (Figure 14a, b). Bases are flat. Orifice diameters range from 12 to 19 cm, and heights between 8 and 14 cm, and they have small volumes. They were fired in reduced oxygen environments, and subsequently burnished on interior and exterior surfaces. Neither bowl has soot marks, charred organic remains or carbonized residues, or abraded or used areas, but one has spalling on the interior surface that may be related to its use, or exposure to fire. The third engraved conical bowl, from Burial 7, also has a small volume. It was fired in an oxidizing environment and has smoothed interior and exterior surfaces. The absence of Booting or charred organic remains suggests it was used for serving foods and liquids rather than for cooking.

Cylindrical Bowls

The single cylindrical bowl is a deep red-slipped Simms Engraved vessel from Burial 4 (Figure 13b). It is tempered with bone and grog and has a 24-cm orifice diameter. The vessel was incompletely oxidized during firing. It was well smoothed on the interior before the slip was applied, and the exterior is burnished and polished. A small area of charred organic remains on the interior of the bowl may indicate that foods were heated in it, but the lack of any sooting on either exterior and interior surfaces suggests that this occurred only to a limited extent (cf. Hally 1986:288-289).


Two sizes of bottles are represented at the Mockingbird site. The smaller and more common size stands between 9 and 15 cm in height, with body volumes between 130 and 275 ml. These have expanding necks and bulbous to globular bodies. The one larger bottle is 18 cm in height and has a body volume more than double the other bottles.

Three Ripley Engraved bottles belong in the smaller-sized bottle category, ranging from about 10.5 to 15 cm in height, with volumes between ca. 150 and 300 ml (Figure 15a-c). They have expanding necks, rounded to flat lips, and rounded to flat bases. They were fired under reduced oxygen conditions, tempered exclusively with grog, and burnished and/or polished on the exterior vessel body and neck. None of the Ripley Engraved bottles exhibit soot marks or charred organic remains.

The Johns Engraved bottle (Figure 15d) has a direct neck and a globular body and an evened and rounded lip. The vessel is about 18 cm in height, with an estimated volume of 500 ml; this is the largest bottle in the Mockingbird vessel assemblage. Tempered with grog, the vessel was fired in a reducing environment and has a grayish-brown exterior surface color. It is smoothed to polished on the exterior surface; the interior neck and lip also are smoothed.

Three of the bottles have unique engraved decorations (see Perttula and Tate 1998:Figures 30, 51). The first was a well-made, bone- and grog-tempered vessel with an evened neck, rolled lip, globular body, and flat base. It was fired in a reduced oxygen environment and smoothed and/or polished on the body and neck. It has about the same volume (ca. 150-250 ml) as most of the other plain and engraved bottles, the exception being the much larger Johns Engraved bottle from Burial 7. The other two uniquely engraved bottles have direct rims; one has a flattened lip, while the other has an everted neck and a rolled lip (Figure 15e). The latter two bottles range in height from 9.3 to 10.6 cm, with volumes between 125 and 175 ml, were fired in a reduced oxygen environment, and have smoothed or burnished to polished bodies. Charred organic remains occur on the exterior surface of one of the bottles, suggesting it was used to heat liquids; this is the only bottle with charred remains.

One bottle in Burial 1 is not decorated. It is about 12 cm in height, has a globular body, a neck orifice diameter of 3.5 cm, a volume of 130 ml, and a somewhat rounded but flat base. Like the engraved bottles, this vessel is smoothed to burnished on the exterior body and neck. It is tempered with grog.


The vessel assemblage contains one large olla, a Ripley Engraved vessel from Burial 8 (Figure 14c). It was fired under reduced oxygen conditions, and no charred organic remains were noted. The olla has a body diameter of 20.5 cm, a short, evened neck, and a rounded lip. It is well burnished only on the exterior body, which is decorated with a series of engraved ticked circles and semicircles.


There are 29 jars in the vessel assemblage, including 24 decorated and five undecorated vessels. The decorated jars were made in several different sizes, varying from as large as 8 liters in volume to as small as 200 ml, and with heights ranging from about 8 cm to 35.5 cm. Vessel orifice diameters generally range from 8 to 32 cm (see Figure 6a, b). The jars usually exhibit evened rims, rolled lips, and flat bases. They are all smoothed on their interior surfaces, which for “cooking pots” would lower permeability and increase their heating effectiveness. Only limited smoothing was noted on their exterior surfaces, usually on the base. The jars consistently have charred organic remains on both the exterior and interior surfaces (Table 3), good evidence for their regular use over fire to cook foods.

Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses of residue samples suggest that C3 plants (probably hardwood nuts and possibly legumes) may have been cooked in the jars. Mean delta^sup 13^C values of -25.2 +/- 0.65o/oo and delta^sup 15^N values of +3.28 +/- 0.67 have been obtained on the residues on the Mockingbird site jars.

The abundant phytoliths found in several jars are dominated by grass silica cells, especially rondel, saddle, and sinuate/rectangle forms (Mulholland 1998), along with rods and rectangular/square phytoliths. These may be from grass inflorescences.

Most of the jars were fired in a reduced oxygen environment, but a much higher proportion were incompletely oxidized (35 percent) compared to the other major vessel classes ( 14 percent for bottles; 12.5 percent for compound bowls; and 11.5 percent for the carinated bowls). The incompletely oxidized jars are usually grog tempered, whereas the jars fired in a reduced oxygen environment were tempered with grog and bone (the latter in modest proportions). Since charred organic remains or soot marks are found on both incompletely oxidized jars and jars fired under reduced oxygen conditions, the differences in firing conditions do not appear to correlate with differences in cooking techniques; both kinds of jars were used for cooking over a fire.

The Maydelle Incised evened rim jars occur in three sizes: small or miniature (see below), medium-sized, and a large size with a considerable volume. Typically, they are smoothed on interior surfaces and roughened to poorly smoothed on their exterior body walls. The medium-sized vessels have orifice diameters between 13 and 16 cm and heights between 12 and 19 cm, while the larger and more heavily-used Maydelle Incised jars have orifice diameters between 20 and 32 cm, heights greater than 23 cm, and volumes estimated to range between at least 4 and 8 liters.

While one of the Maydelle Incised vessels, a medium-sized jar (Figure 16a), was not completely oxidized during firing, the others were fired under reduced oxygen conditions. Charred organic remains or soot marks were noted on six (86 percent) of the Maydelle Incised jars; the charred remains of food occur on the interior rims and bodies of five vessels, in one case extending along and over the lip to the exterior surface (Figure 16b). On the latter vessel, the charred residues are lustrous, perhaps a product of oxidized resins and solid carbon formed on the lip (see Hally 1983; Skibo 1992:152). This vessel also has abrasive marks from use on its interior surface and heavy spalling or pitting on the body wall and the base from the effects of heat. A second Maydelle Incised jar with interior organic remains (Vessel 13 from from Burial 11) also has interior spalling and abrasive marks on its body and base. Soot marks are present on the exterior bodies of three Maydelle Incised jars (see Figure 16c)-three of the largest jars from the site (Burial 8, Vessel 8A, Burial 9, Vessel 1, and Burial 10, Vessel 11)-but there are no charred remains on either the interior or exterior vessel surfaces. Two other jars, one medium-sized (Figure 16a) and one large in volume, have charred organic remains on the exterior lip, rim, and/or body from repeated use over a cooking fire; as noted, this vessel also has extensive interior vessel sooting and preserved charred remains.

The rim-punctated jars were manufactured in two sizes: a small one, with orifice diameters and vessel heights between 8 and 15.7 cm, and a much larger version, with orifice diameters ranging between 22 and 26 cm. The two larger jars in Burials 1 and 5 have either three or four rows of punctations around the rim. Both jars are smoothed and/or burnished on the interior rim and upper body, but smoothed only on the base and/or lower exterior body walls. The jar from Burial 1 has charred organic remains on the exterior upper body and rim, while charred organic remains are present on the interior of Vessel 1 in Burial 5. Stable carbon isotope analysis of the remains suggests they are from C3 plants (^sup 13^C/^sup 12^C ratio of -27.8o/oo).

The five small rim-punctated jars from Burials 1, 5, 7, and 11 have from two to five rows of punctations around the rim, but otherwise are simply smaller versions of the previously described jars (Figure 17a). Four of the small punctated jars have evened rims with either rolled or rounded lips, interior smoothing, and limited smoothing on the exterior vessel surfaces, and one also has rim peaks (Figure 17b). This small jar (estimated 1-1.5 liters in volume) has charred organic remains and soot marks on both the interior and exterior rim and upper body surfaces, indicating it was used for cooking over a fire. These small jars were fired in a reducing environment and tempered with grog (inclusions amounting to 20-25 percent of the clay paste).

The Pease Brushed-Incised evened-rim jars include two sizes: one at least 21 cm in height,19-22 cm in orifice diameter, with volume estimated at a minimum of 3 liters (Figure 18a, b), and a smaller version about 15 cm in height,13-15 cm in orifice diameter, with a volume of about 1 liter. One of the larger Pease BrushedIncised jars has four rim peaks (Figure 18a), similar to a vessel from the nearby Thomas Caldwell Farm (41TT6) (Suhm and Jelks 1962:Plate 60f). Both sizes of jars are tempered with grog, but the larger jars also contain small amounts of calcined bone temper (about 5 percent of the clay paste). Three of the five Pease Brushed-Incised jars were incompletely oxidized during firing, at least one of each size category.

The smaller Pease Brushed-Incised jars display evidence on their interior surfaces of having been used in cooking. This evidence includes pitting and abrasion on one vessel and abrasion, spalling, and charred organic remains on the upper body and rim of the other. Both are well smoothed on the interior. All three of the larger Pease Brushed-Incised jars exhibit evidence of use, with extensive sooting on interior and exterior body walls, charred organic remains on the interior rim, and charred remains on interior and exterior vessel surfaces; on one jar, the exterior body also has Booting. Interior walls are smoothed and/or burnished, with smoothing of the base the only surface treatment on the exterior vessel surface.

Both of the La Rue Neck Banded jars are small to medium-sized, everted-rim vessels, standing 11 cm high, with orifice diameters of 12 cm and volumes ranging from 700 to 850 ml (Figure 19c). One of the jars has rim peaks, possibly representing a miniature version of the larger cooking vessels. Both were fired in a reduced oxygen environment, and one of the two was then cooled in a highoxygen environment. Neither vessel is well smoothed on interior or exterior surfaces, and only one (Figure 19c) has a small area of Booting, suggesting limited use over the fire. Neither exhibits abraded areas or striations, further implying their limited use.

The one Bullard Brushed vessel is a medium-sized jar (1.75 liters) (Figure 19b). It is well smoothed and burnished on the interior surface, while fire clouds and/or soot marks on its exterior suggest it was used over a fire. Because it is not very stable, the jar probably was suspended over the fire or placed snugly on a flat surface in a fire or hearth. The McKinney Plain jar from Burial 6 is of substantial size (21 cm high, with a 16.5-cm orifice diameter) and volume (estimated 2.5-3 liters or greater) (Figure 19a). It was fired under reduced oxygen conditions, smoothed on interior surfaces, and has Booting and burning on the body and base.

Two sizes of jars are represented in the four plain jars: (1) small jars with orifice diameters between 12 and 16 cm (n=2), and (2) miniature jars, with heights less than about 8 cm with orifices between 6 and 12 cm (n=2). One of the two plain miniature jars contains clay pigments.

The small jars have evened rims, rolled lips, and flat bases. They have wellsmoothed interior surfaces, but only smoothed to poorly smoothed exterior surfaces. One was incompletely oxidized during firing, while the other was fired under reduced-oxygen conditions but apparently pulled from the fire for cooling. Other than fire-clouding on the exterior surface of Vessel 10 in Burial 10, no sooting or charred material is present on the small jars. Perhaps they were never used for cooking, as most of the other evened-rim jars have abundant charred remains on both exterior and interior surfaces from use in cooking activities over the fire. However, one of the miniature jars without pigment residues appears to have been used over a fire, as charred organic remains and sooting are present on the exterior rim. This vessel measures 8.2 cm in height and has a volume of only 200 ml.

Dishes and Other Pigment Vessels

Five of the vessels from four burials contain clay residues, suggesting that pigments had been stored in them when they were placed in the graves. The vessels include one small dish and four small or miniature jars.

The dish, only 4.2 cm in height and with a volume of 160 ml, came from Burial 8. It is well burnished and/or polished and, based on its core colors, had been incompletely oxidized during its firing. An extensive residue of white kaolin clay pigment is preserved on the exterior surface, which also exhibits extensive striations and wear, apparently the result of the processing and working of the pigment on the dish.

Green glauconitic clay residues were noted in two of the miniature jars. These jars have evened rims, rolled and rounded lips, and flat bases (Figure 20b); they also have four rim peaks, a vessel characteristic more often seen on small compound bowls. The jars are very dark in color and smoothed principally only on their interiors. The Burial 10 pigment jar (incompletely oxidized during firing) is also decorated with two partially smoothed-over rows of rim punctations.

A third pigment jar with green glauconitic clay pigment is 5.7 cm in height, has an evened rim like the other jars, a rolled to rounded lip, a flat base, and a volume of only 30 ml (Figure 20a). It was incised on its body and then smoothed over, obliterating the decoration. The presence of sooting and charred remains on its exterior surface suggest this miniature jar had been used over the fire prior to its having been filled with pigments, and placed with Burial 6.

The final jar with green pigment was found in Burial 11. It is only 7.8 cm in height, with a volume of 175 ml. Like the other pigment jars, it has an evened rim and a rolled lip, and smoothed interior and exterior surfaces (Figure 20c). It exhibits no charred remains or Booting. This vessel is also decorated with diagonal incised lines and has two suspension holes on opposite sides of the rim.

Differences in Vessel Sizes and Shapes among the Burials

A wide assortment of sizes and shapes is apparent in the Mockingbird site vessel assemblage. There are two sizes of bottles, three jar sizes (including pigment jars), two sizes of compound bowls, three of carinated bowls, three of conical bowls, and a pigment dish (Table 4). The most common vessels are mediumsized carinated bowls (with volumes between about 500 ml and 1.5 liters), followed by large jars (with volumes greater than 3 liters), large carinated bowls (volumes greater than 3-4 liters), medium-sized jars (1-2 liters), and small bottles (125-300 ml). Most of the burials have at least one of each vessel form/size.

There are some significant differences among the burials in the kinds and sizes of the vessels present. For example, Burials 5, 7, 8, and 11 had six to nine vessel kind/size classes, and the other seven burials had only two to five vessel kind/size classes.

Of those burials containing the most diverse kinds and sizes of vessels, large carinated bowls and large jars were particularly common in Burials 8 and 11, as were pigment vessels, while Burials 5 and 7 had a comparable range of small, medium, and large bowls and jars. Each of these burials also contained a single bottle. Burial 11 stands out in this group, and indeed among all the burials, in having the highest number of vessel offerings (n=16 vessels), the most large and medium-sized carinated bowls, and (with Burials 8 and 9) the most large jars. It also had many more bowls (n=10) than jars (n=5), while the ratio of bowls to jars in the remainder of the burials is equivalent.

Among the burials with smaller numbers of vessel kind/size classes, Burials 1 and 9 were distinctive in two ways: (1) they had only two vessel kind/size classes, and (2) the classes comprise only large jars and large bowls (either compound or carinated). Burials 4 and 6 had a more equitable range of medium-sized to large bowls (either conical or carinated) and jars, along with a pigment vessel, while Burials 2, 3, and 10 contained primarily small to medium-sized jars and bowls (and one pigment vessel in Burial 10); the small size of the vessels from Burial 2 suggests it was that of an adolescent or child burial.

Compositional Analyses

The neutron activation analyses (NAA) completed by Neff et al. (1998:258) indicate that the vessels from the Mockingbird site form a distinct compositional group, which they call the Titus group, within a northeast Texas production zone. The clear chemical differences between Caddo vessels from Mockingbird and Caddo sites to the north and east on the Red and Sulphur rivers suggest that the Mockingbird site “ceramics all appear to pertain to a single compositional group, and they are inferred to have been produced locally…if not on site” (Neff et al. 1998:272).

The petrographic analyses noted that grog and bone temper was intentionally added to the vessels. Grog was identified in all, and bone in 12 (75 percent) of the sherd/vessel thin sections (Figure 21). The regular use of grog at Mockingbird can be taken as a general characteristic of a localized Late Caddo ceramic tradition and/or technology. The selection of finely crushed grog as a temper by these Late Caddo potters may have been for both technological and stylistic properties, because fine grog in the paste slows the oxidation process, creating darkercolored vessels in the reducing environment, while allowing them to be fired longer, with more control, and producing a harder ceramic (Rice 1987:354; Teltser 1993:532, 540).

The evidence of consistent grog and bone temper use is matched by the fairly homogeneous character of the paste in the frequencies of non-plastics (mean=38.8 percent, ranging from 27 to 55 percent), clay matrix (mean=49 percent, ranging from 34.5 to 56.1 percent), and pore space proportions (mean=12.2 percent, ranging from 8.3 to 27 percent) in the vessel assemblage (Skokan and Perttula 1998:Table 12). In this sense, both the findings of the NAA and petrographic analyses support the idea that the Mockingbird site ceramics were the product of a local Titus phase group.

It is informative to compare the paste composition of the different vessel forms represented in the Mockingbird site petrographic sample. The 16 sherds represent one bottle, two conical bowls, four evened-rim jars, and nine carinated bowls. Each of the four vessel classes is compositionally distinct (Figure 22). The bottle has the highest frequency of non-plastics and bone temper, is the least porous, and has the lowest amount of naturally occurring quartz grains in the paste. Conversely, the carinated bowls have the highest percentages of quartz and grog non-plastics; the bowls are the most porous; and the bowls and jars have low amounts of grog temper relative to hematite, chen, and quartz non-plastics. In fact, compositionally, the bowls and jars are the most similar when the paste composition attributes are considered together.

A ceramic vessel like a bottle, designed to hold liquids, should perform best if it is low in porosity, allowing it to retain the liquids through its use-life. Adding a clay slip to the surface would serve to reduce its porosity (O’Brien et al. 1994:291), although the analyzed bottle from the Mockingbird site does not have a slip.

The high frequency of finely crushed grog temper in the carinated bowls, almost all of which are finely engraved vessels, and the considerable amounts of quartz non-plastics in their paste (see Figure 22), are probably related to attempts by the Caddo potters to better control the making and firing of harder and more durable decorated bowls of particular colors. Most of the engraved carinated bowls at the Mockingbird site are dark gray to black in color and polished to a fine luster. Adding a red or white clay pigment to the engraved lines, along with the negative designs created by excising, enhances their appearance and style. The addition of a temper such as grog (particularly if the grog is finely crushed) with expansion coefficients comparable to the coefficients of the clay paste contributes to the ability of the fired vessel to withstand heat-related stresses, as well as increasing its flexural strength (O’Brien et al. 1994:281; Rice 1987:362). Such vessels would also have better thermal conductivity. The engraved carinated bowls were likely intended for long use, and common use at that, not for cooking but for serving hot and cold foods to the family and for larger community functions.

The non-carinated bowls and jars have comparable amounts of quartz, grog, bone, hematite, and chert non-plastics, comparably variable porosity (ranging from that characteristic of bottles to that of carinated bowls); and they have virtually the same proportions of clay matrix and non-plastics in the paste (see Figure 22). These paste attributes suggest the multipurpose nature of these vessel forms, used as cooking pots and containers. Their more heterogeneous paste composition compared to the bottles and carinated bowls would permit a broader range of uses, allow the manufacture of strong and hard pots, and probably convey a functional advantage in withstanding thermal and mechanical stresses associated with the repeated heating and cooling of liquids and dry foods.

As Rice ( 1987:367-368) points out, increased porosity in cooking and serving vessels reduces thermal expansion, limiting cracks and fractures, and slows the transfer and conductivity of heat (helping the insulation of the vessels, which would be handy for those made to serve hot foods). The porosity of the bowls and jars from the Mockingbird site is not excessive (i.e., it is less than 20 percent of the paste), such that these vessels would be quite serviceable over time without being subject to diminished strength from cumulative thermal fatigue. Another important characteristic in assessing the function and use of the bowls and jars is their different exterior (roughened and textured) and interior (well-smoothed and burnished) surface treatment compared to the bottles and carinated bowls. Exterior roughening and interior smoothing/burnishing should contribute to better control of thermal shock resistance (Schiffer et al. 1994:210) and lower permeability, hence, improved heating effectiveness (Rice 1996:148).

The paste composition relationships of different Caddoan vessel forms and the conclusions of both the petrographic (Skokan and Perttula 1998) and neutron activation analyses (Neff et al. 1998) indicate that the Mockingbird ceramics are the product of a local group. It seems reasonable to suggest that the diversity in paste composition between vessel forms is ultimately attributable to differences in vessel function and use (sensu Rice 1996:139) and, possibly, also to intentional choices of style. The simple characterization of vessel forms by terms such as “bottle,” “jar,” and “bowl,” already suggests a perceived difference in function and use based on morphology, so the petrographic data provides a more empirical confirmation of vessel form-function relationships.

Pottery Types in the Assemblage

Eight different defined Caddo ceramic types are present among the Mockingbird’ site vessels. The assemblage is dominated by Ripley Engraved, a fine ware, and several utility ware types (principally Maydelle Incised and Pease Brushed-Incised) (Table 5). A ninth group of untyped vessels also occurs, characterized by a simple, but distinctive rim punctated decoration that is common in Late Caddo sites in the Big Cypress Creek basin.

Ceramic types at Mockingbird include: Ripley Engraved (43 percent), Maydelle Incised (7.9 percent), Pease Brushed-Incised (5.6 percent), La Rue Neck Banded (2.3 percent), Simms Engraved (1.1 percent), McKinney Plain ( 1.1 percent), Johns Engraved (1.1 percent), and Bullard Brushed (1.1 percent). Except for the Johns Engraved, these types are relatively common in Titus phase assemblages throughout the Big Cypress Creek basin, especially the Ripley Engraved. Their presence or absence and relative proportions at other Titus phase sites ought to prove useful in assessing the stylistic and social relationships between the peoples who used the Mockingbird site cemetery and other Titus phase Caddo groups. It is assumed that the more similar any two or more Titus phase assemblages are with respect to the presence and relative proportions of certain decorated types (both the engraved fine wares and the utility wares, which have different kinds of body and rim decorations) and decorative motifs and elements, the closer the social interaction of those responsible for producing them. Close social interaction implies “intermarriage, economic exchange, joint participation in ceremonies and visitation” (Thurmond 1990:222).

The utility wares at Mockingbird are dominated by Maydelle Incised and Pease Brushed-Incised. However, brushed vessels account for less than 3 percent of the utility vessels. La Rue Neck Banded is also present at the Mockingbird site. According to Thurmond (1990:Table 62), Maydelle Incised is a common utility vessel principally in the Three Basins and Tankersley Creek subclusters. Brushed wares in the Three Basins subcluster amount to less than 5 percent of the utility wares, while they make up 20-30 percent in the Tankersley Creek subcluster. Brushed utility wares are even more common in the easternmost Titus phase subclusters (the Swauano and Big Cypress Creek subclusters). La Rue Neck Banded is most common in Three Basins subcluster Titus phase sites, and in certain western Tankersley Creek subcluster components. On the basis of the utility wares alone, there appears to have been close social interaction between the Caddoan peoples at the Mockingbird site and Three Basins subcluster sites, the closest of which are located not far to the west on Blundell Creek and farther to the west on the headwaters of Big Cypress Creek (see Thurmond 1990:Figure 35).

The occurrence of Pease Brushed-Incised at the Mockingbird site is contrary to Thurmond’s (1990:228) suggestion that this type “drops out almost entirely” in the Titus phase and is replaced by utility vessel types like Bullard Brushed and Harleton Applique. Only one vessel of Bullard Brushed is present in the Mockingbird site ceramic assemblage, and Harleton Applique is absent. However, the consistent set of calibrated radiocarbon dates obtained from Mockingbird-at one-sigma ranging from cal AD 1430 to cal AD 1602-clearly establishes that the Mockingbird site was used as a cemetery during much of the Titus phase.

Perhaps the frequency of Pease Brushed-Incised jars and the lack of brushed pottery in the Mockingbird ceramic assemblage is an indication that the headwaters area of Hayes Creek, where the Mockingbird site is situated, was occupied by a separate Caddo group that used different kinds of utility wares than other contemporaneous Titus phase groups. That is, although Thurmond (1990) recognized four subclusters in the Titus phase, other subclusters of Caddo sites/cemeteries are likely present within the Cypress Creek watershed, whose vessel assemblages are composed of different sets of fine wares and utility wares because of local stylistic-social and functional needs. This makes sense when also considering the low diversity in the engraved types present at the Mockingbird site: Ripley Engraved is overwhelmingly represented, and there are single examples of Johns Engraved and Simms Engraved. Again, this is consistent with the Mockingbird site having affiliations with both the Tankersley Creek and Three Basins subclusters, as is the virtual absence of the pendant triangle motif at the Mockingbird site. This motif is rare to absent in both of those subclusters as well. The absence of the pendant triangle motif in these subclusters, which probably reflects their age (Perttula 1992). The pendant triangle motif seems to have become popular primarily after ca. A.D. 1600.

On the other hand, on the basis of Ripley Engraved rim motifs, the Mockingbird site does not appear to be closely related to the Three Basins and Tankersley Creek subclusters (Table 6). At the latter sites, the most common Ripley Engraved motifs include the scroll, scroll and circle, and continuous scroll. Frequencies of these motifs at Mockingbird are 9, 6, and 22 percent, respectively. The most common Ripley Engraved motif at Mockingbird is the scroll and semicircle, which does not occur on large numbers of bowls at other Cypress Creek cluster sites.

Considering the entire suite of engraved rim motifs from a number of Titus phase cemeteries in the Big Cypress Creek area, the occurrence of a Johns Engraved bottle at Mockingbird, and the fact that the utility wares are comprised principally of Maydelle Incised vessels, Pease Brushed-Incised vessels, rimpunctated jars, and La Rue Neck Banded vessels, the closest affiliations of the Mockingbird site lie with Late Caddo Titus phase groups that lived both in the Hart and Tankersley Creek drainages to the immediate south and southwest, and also with Late Caddo Titus phase groups who used the large community cemetery at the Tuck Carpenter site, located some 25 km south on Dry Creek, a tributary of Big Cypress Creek. The utility wares point more specifically to Titus phase groups to the west and farther to the southwest (ca. 30 km) along western tributaries of Big Cypress Creek and its headwaters (Figure 23). All in all, it seems reasonable to conclude that the Mockingbird site, and probably other Late Caddo Titus phase sites in the immediate vicinity, represent a distinct, local Titus phase community situated near the northernmost extent of the Titus phase in the Big Cypress Creek watershed, outside of the Titus phase heartland (cf. Perttula and Nelson 1998:388, Figure 159). Only a few Titus phase sites occur in the White Oak Creek or Sulphur River drainages to the north.

Discussion: Caddo Mortuary Vessel Assemblages

There are good ethnographic and archeological reasons to presume that the funerary objects placed in the graves of Late Caddo individuals principally represent in a symbolic and material sense the items used by those individuals in life, as well as the range of goods needed to accompany the deceased on their journey to the other world (cf. Parsons 1941; Rogers n.d.; Swanton 1942). We need only consider Fray Casanas’ ( 1927:294) comments in 1691 that the Caddo buried “their dead with all their arms and utensils which each possesses.” Here, I consider the kinds of funerary objects in Late Caddo societies-in particular, mortuary vessel assemblages, because ceramic vessels are by far the most common objects placed in Caddoan burials-to assess differences among and between Caddo groups in the treatment of the dead, and what such differences may mean regarding diverse Late Caddo views on life and death.

In historic times, Caddo ceramic vessels, primarily bowls of various forms, jars, and bottles, held liquids and foods and were used for cooking and serving foods, such as corn, atole, a corn gruel pounded into a flour and mixed with water or milk (Chapa and Foster 1997:149, fn. 6), and tamales (see Swanton 1942:157-158; Chapa and Foster 1997:149). In 1690, Alonso de Leon noted the use of “pots and casserole dishes,” filled with beans, corn, and pinole, made of powdered corn and sugar (Chapa and Foster 1997:150, fn. 1). Other vessels were reported in historic times to have held incense, body paints/pigments, and corn meal offerings.

Kelley et al. (1996:92-93) note that Late Caddo mortuary assemblages of vessels along the Red River are quite similar to one another, but that they “differ markedly from the domestic assemblage:’ Late Caddo period mortuary assemblages from the Belcher site in northwest Louisiana (n=149 vessels) and Cedar Grove site in southwest Arkansas (n=63 vessels) (Webb 1959; Schambach and Miller 1984) contained comparable percentages of bottles (20-24 percent), simple bowls (3-11 percent), carinated bowls (31-37 percent), and jars (32-39 percent) (Kelley et al. 1996:Figure 10). By contrast, the domestic ceramic assemblage from the Joe McLelland site, dated ca. A.D. 1650-1710, is dominated by jars (55 percent) and simple bowls (27 percent), with much lower proportions of carinated bowls and bottles. Kelley et al. (1996:93) concluded that “the Caddo were selecting the fine-ware bottles and carinated bowls for placement with the dead: ‘ Because of this, Caddo mortuary vessel collections “cannot be considered representative of the total ceramic assemblage.”

The ceramic mortuary assemblage from the Mockingbird site is different from those seen in the Red River Late Caddo cemeteries in the following respects: (1) a lower representation of bottles (including the ollas), at only 10.1 percent, even though most of the graves had a single bottle, as is the Titus phase custom for burial offerings; (2) higher frequencies of fine ware carinated bowls and compound bowls (45 percent); and (3) the presence of pigment jars and a dish, absent in the Red River collections. On the other hand, the proportions of jars (32.6 percent) and simple or conical bowls ( 10.1 percent) in the Mockingbird site ceramic assemblage is very comparable to the Red River cemeteries.

The vessel assemblage from the Mockingbird site can also be compared with seven other Titus phase cemeteries, each containing more than 70 vessels. These are: Tuck Carpenter (n=383), Mattie Gandy (n =79), H. R. Taylor (n =413), Ben McKinney (n =86), A. P. Williams (n =78), Thomas Caldwell (n =88), and J. M. Riley (n =131). Carinated bowls and compound bowls account for about 43-60 percent of the vessels in these assemblages (45.5 percent of the vessels from the Mockingbird site are carinated and compound bowls). Jars consistently comprise about 30 percent of the Titus phase vessel assemblages, as they do in the Late Caddo sites on the Red River, and bottles are present in a consistent proportion from one cemetery to another, at about 10 percent.

Ollas and simple bowls are not well represented in the vessel assemblages from these Titus phase cemeteries. At cemeteries that have ollas (either plain or decorated vessels), they only account for 1.5.7 percent of the vessels. With the exception of the Mockingbird site, the only other Titus phase cemeteries considered here that have produced ollas occur in the Big Cypress subcluster in the Lake O’ the Pines area. This implies that perhaps the ollas at Mockingbird were acquired through trade and exchange with Caddo peoples living to the southeast along Big Cypress Creek.

The proportion of simple bowls in the various cemeteries ranges from 1.2 to 15.4 percent, with most of the cemeteries having percentages less than 5.7 percent. The two Titus phase cemeteries with the highest proportions of simple bowls-Mockingbird and A. P. Williams (41TT4)-also have the lowest percentages of carinated and compound bowls among the eight sites, and the highest percentages of plain vessels.

There are close similarities between the vessel assemblages from Mockingbird, the A. P. Williams site on Tankersley Creek, and the Tuck Carpenter site, principally in the relative proportions of Ripley Engraved compound bowls and carinated bowls. At A. P. Williams, for instance, 50 percent of the sample of Ripley Engraved carinated or compound bowls (n=30) are the compound form. Only at the Mockingbird and Tuck Carpenter sites does the relative proportion of compound Ripley Engraved bowls amount to more than 21 percent; elsewhere, these distinctive forms comprise between 2.6 and 13.9 percent of the vessel assemblages.

Basic differences in morphology and shape of ceramic vessels have been recognized for many years in Caddo archaeological research, and these differences seem to have functional and social connotations (Early 1995). Late Caddo period ceramic mortuary assemblages also differ considerably from region to region within the Caddoan area in the composition of jars, bottles, bowls, and carinated bowls. In particular, an examination of Late Caddo mortuary vessel assemblages from some 40-50 cemetery sites (totaling about 3,100 vessels) discloses consistent differences from area to area among contemporaneous Late Caddo groups. Areas represented by these sites are the Great Bend and Mound Prairie areas on the Red River, the Little River area and Ouachita River area in Southwest Arkansas, the lower Sulphur River, the middle Sabine region, the upper Neches/Angelina river area, and the Pineywoods and Post Oak Savanna region (Figure 24, Table 7).

As already noted, there is very little difference between contemporaneous Titus phase cemeteries in the character of mortuary ceramic vessel assemblages. This probably indicates the strong shared social, religious, and philosophical beliefs that existed among many Titus phase communities regarding the kinds of ceramic vessels important for use in life and needed in the after-life, as well as the existence of widespread personal and larger social contacts between Titus phase peoples. Titus phase mortuary vessel assemblages are distinctive. No other contemporaneous mortuary vessel assemblages from other sites across the Caddoan area resemble those of the Titus phase. This can only mean that there was a very considerable diversity among Caddo groups in their cultural practices, beliefs, and world-views about what males and females-and adults and children-needed in life, and “needed in the other life” (Swanton 1942:205), and that there were cultural boundaries between Caddo groups not regularly crossed by networks of personal and group contacts.

Titus phase groups had a strong need for food-serving vessels (particularly medium and large carinated bowls), as did their Caddo neighbors in the NechesAngelina river basins to the south (though people in those areas preferred carinated, globular, and shouldered-engraved bowls of the Poynor and Patton Engraved types) and the McCurtain phase Caddo groups in the Mound Prairie area along the middle Red River. Among these latter Caddo groups, simple bowls and carinated bowls comprise between 57 and 70 percent of the vessels placed in the graves as burial offerings. This was much less the case along the lower Sulphur River, in the Great Bend area of the Red River, and in the Ouachita River drainage in southwest Arkansas, where bowls make up 15-45 percent of the vessel assemblages.

Cooking and storage jars are ubiquitous in all Late Caddo mortuary contexts, including those of the Titus phase, where they amount to 172 percent of the mortuary vessel assemblages. This consistent use of jars highlights the importance of cooking and storage vessels for sustaining Caddo agricultural lifeways, as well as ensuring that the individual in the grave had enough foodstuffs (placed in the jars) for sustenance on his or her journey (cf. Swanton 1942:204, 210).

Bottles, probably used for holding liquids, corn meal, and offerings, were especially important burial accompaniments for Late Caddo populations living in the Ouachita River basin in southwest Arkansas (see Early 1988,1993), the Little River basin, the lower Sulphur River in northeast Texas, and in cemeteries along the Great Bend of the Red River. Bottles comprise between 23 and 42 percent of the ceramic mortuary offerings among these groups. Significantly, this was not the case among the Titus phase Caddo in the Pineywoods and Post Oak Savanna of northeast Texas, the Frankston-Allen phase Caddo in east Texas, or the Caddo groups living in the Mound Prairie area of the Red River in northeast Texas. Among these westernmost Caddo groups, the percentage of bottles among the ceramic mortuary assemblages ranges only from 10 to 15 percent, two to three times less than Late Caddo groups living farther to the east and northeast in parts of the Red River basin, the Little River, and the Ouachita River.

In fact, there is a clear inverse relationship in Caddo mortuary contexts from these 40-50 cemeteries examined across the Caddoan area in the relative proportions of bottles to bowls in the mortuary vessel assemblages; the proportions of jars remain relatively consistent from one assemblage to another. This inverse relationship expresses a basic dichotomy in belief and cultural practices between eastern and western Caddo groups, a dichotomy that speaks to the existence of well-defined social boundaries in Late Caddoan times (and perhaps extending back into Middle Caddoan times), and provides insights into the complexity of the Caddoan cultural landscape during this period of time.


I would like to first thank Robert M. Rogers, Melinda Tate, and Wayne P. Glanders for their support in the preparation of this paper, and Melinda again for her able assistance in the analysis of the vessels from Mockingbird as well as for her excellent drawings. Thanks also to William Green and an anonymous reviewer for their comments on an earlier version of this paper, but the content of this paper is my responsibility alone.

Archeological and Environmental Consultants Austin, Texas 78753-4346

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