Culture // 5 min Read

Shell Crescent

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Jun 22, 2020


The tenth hole of the May River Golf Course lies above a site known as Shell Crescent, named after a crescent-shaped deposit of shell and artifacts that was found during excavations.

Archaeologists also discovered a firing pit with fragments of ceramic vessels, a rare find that gives us a snapshot of prehistoric potters at work. The Woodland potters at the Shell Crescent site used the coil method. They collected clay from the rivers, tempered it with sand or bits of clay, and rolled it by hand into long ropes or coils. They stacked the coils and then pinched them together. Next they pressed wooden paddles, carved with checked patterns or wrapped with fiber or sinew cords, against the outside of the pottery, leaving designs in the wet clay. Then the pots were fired in open kilns. The firing method was not foolproof, however, as the four different pots left in the kiln at Shell Crescent indicate.

wooden paddle
This wooden paddle may have been wrapped with fiber cords and then used to impress designs in wet clay.

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