Excavations at the Pharr Mounds and the Bear Creek Site
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Pharr Mounds


Several pottery wares identified by the use of different tempering materials--sand, limestone, burned clay, vegetable fiber, and shell--were recovered at the Pharr Site. The types and miscellaneous decorated sherds are grouped below under these categories.

Sand Tempered Ware

The Pharr sand tempered pottery was compared with type sherds collected at the Miller Site (Jennings, 1941) and the Bynum Mounds (Cotter and Corbett, 1951). The comparison showed that the Pharr material fits very comfortably in the Miller ceramic tradition.

Baldwin Plain (figs. 13a and 19e-f)


Temper: Abundant, very fine sand. Mica flecks are present in virtually all sherds but are abundant in only a few. They seem to represent the use of a micaceous clay rather than an intentional addition to the paste.

Texture: Fine and homogeneous with temper evenly distributed. Very gritty.

Color: Dull brown, reddish brown, grayish brown, and buff are most characteristic.

Surface finish: Most sherds are badly weathered but smoothing of the exterior was apparently common.


Rim: Both direct and everted rims are represented.

Body: Two hemispherical bowls were recovered. The sherds indicate that globular jars with slightly everted rims are also represented.

Remarks: The paste described for Baldwin Plain is typical of all the sand tempered types. Any individual peculiarities will be mentioned below.

Furrs Cordmarked (figs. 13b and 19g-h)

Vessels with direct and slightly everted rims are represented in the sherd material. The restored jar has a conoidal base and the suggestion of a shoulder on the body. Partial obliteration of the cordmarking by smoothing is common

Saltillo Fabric Impressed (fig. 19a-c)

The sherds indicate that large vessels with direct and slightly everted rims are typical of this type. The great majority of the sherds are badly weathered, frequently leaving only faint indications of the "washboard" effect produced by fabric marking. Partial obliteration as a result of smoothing is also frequent.

Zone Stamped (fig. 13c-d)

One complete vessel, one partially restorable bowl, and a few sherds represent this category.

The decoration consists of bands of dentate rocker stamping enclosed by broad incised lines. The stamping is finely executed and a close examination was necessary to reveal that the examples were rocker stamped. A plain rocker stamped band encircling the base of the bowl is the only exception to this technique noted.

The complete example is a compound jar with cylindrical base and a four-lobed midsection topped by a cambered rim. The curvilinear motif is centered on the peak of the lobes and the design element is repeated twice. The rim is cross hatched.

The partially restored bowl has a square base and widely expanding sides. The motif consisted of chevrons and other curvilinear elements and the design was apparently repeated four times.

Sand tempered, zone stamped pottery is apparently not common, but has been reported from several locations in nearby Alabama: Pickwick Basin (Webb and DeJarnette, 1942 Plates 100-1-2C and -2D), Guntersville Basin (Heimlich, 1952, p. 36), and with Porter Hopewellian pottery (DeJarnette, 1952, p. 277).

Miscellaneous (fig. 18)

There was also a variety of decorated sherds of unnamed types.

Six cord-impressed sherds differ from ordinary cordmarking in the careful execution of the cord impressing. Groups of three parallel cord impressions and a herringbone motif represent deliberate attempts to form designs.

Five sherds show vestiges of red filming in zones outlined by broad incised lines.

Bold, plain rocker stamping occurs on three sherds.

One sherd is decorated with rows of circular punctates.

Six sherds have incised decorations. Three are cross hatched rims and two have herringbone motifs.

There are three brushed sherds.

Limestone Tempered Ware
(figs. 12b-c, and 16)

This ware is represented at Pharr by the types Mulberry Creek Plain, Long Branch Fabric Marked, Flint River Brushed, and Flint River Cordmarked. All of these decorative techniques occurred on the same paste, which is described as follows:


Temper: Limestone, which has been entirely leached out. The angular vesicles indicate that the temper was very abundant and that the particles were generally quite large. In contrast to the sand tempered wares, the clay used is non-micaceous.

Texture: Medium to coarse, usually poorly compacted and contorted. Surfaces are smooth and not gritty.

Color: Buffs and tans most common. Less frequently, dull red or reddish brown.

Surface finish: Exteriors smoothed.


The two complete vessels of Flint River Cordmarked and Flint River Brushed types have oblate bodies, everted rims, and tetropodal bases. Tetrapodal support was evidently common, for a number of limestone tempered conical feet were recovered. Rims are direct or everted and occasionally thickened by the addition of a strip of clay to the exterior.

Clay Tempered Ware

This material is part of a widespread tradition for which, as far as I know, no workable typology has been formulated. Clay tempered pottery is given one set of names in the Mississippi Valley and another set in the Northwest Alabama area. Without sample sherds it is impossible to judge which the Pharr material most closely resembles. The only example assigned a type name is a Marksville Incised, var. Marksville, ornamental jar, which was identified by Stephen Williams (personal communication).

Plainware, red filming, cordmarking, and fabric impressing were all found on clay tempered paste. Again, the paste to which these decorative techniques were applied is similar and a single description will suffice.


Temper: Fine to medium bits of burned clay. Burned vegetal material or charcoal common. Mica flecks on a few sherds.

Texture: Smooth and "slick" as opposed to gritty. Fine to medium, contorted.

Color: Tan, buff, or brown.

Surface Finish: Exteriors well smoothed.


The only vessel recovered, the Marksville Incised jar (fig. 12a), is a jar with four mammae-like lobes and a cylindrical rim. The single rim sherd recovered is everted with a plain, flat lip.

Fiber Tempered Ware

All examples are plain sherds.


Temper: The tiny "worm trails" on the surfaces and in the core indicate fiber of some sort.

Texture: Very coarse, poorly wedged, and contorted. Slightly gritty.

Color: Tan, buff, or gray.

Surface finish: All surfaces are eroded.


No data.

Shell Tempered Ware

All examples are plain sherds.


Temper: Coarse shell added to a gritty, micaceous clay.

Texture: Coarse, poorly wedged, contorted.

Color: Tan to brown.

Surface finish: Poorly smoothed.


The rim sherds seem to represent typical Middle Mississippian pots with globular body and everted rim.

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Last Updated: 15-May-2008