The pot makers at the Tchefuncte site used clays from around the site to make most of their pots. They may have traded for a few pots from other places.
Although people in some other parts of the Americas were making pottery before 3000 B.C., the craft of making ceramic pots did not spread to Louisiana until about 2,000 years later. Tchefuncte potters made pots that were functional, and sometimes beautifully decorated. However, they had not yet learned how to make pots that were very strong. The clays found in Louisiana should be kneaded, like a baker kneads bread dough, in order to remove imperfections. If the clays are not kneaded well, pots made from those clays could have flaws that make the vessels easier to break. Each of these pieces of Tchefuncte pottery has flaws that look like thin lines, called laminations, which is where the clay is starting to separate, and may eventually form a large crack (top).
Usually, people did not throw away a pot unless it was broken. Because of this, archaeologists typically only find fragments of each pot, and determining the original shape and size can be difficult. However, sometimes they find enough pieces of one pot to put it back together (bottom).
Click on the images to the left to get a closer look.
(Bottom) Figure 17 from The Tchefuncte Culture, an Early Occupation of the Lower Mississippi Valley by James A. Ford and George I. Quimby, Jr., 1945; Memoirs of the Society for American Archaeology No. 2, published jointly by the Society for American Archaeology and the Louisiana State University Press.
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