"Timucua Pottery" Clash of Cultures Activity

Clash of Cultures Activity


Students will create their own pottery using flour, salt, water, and cream of tartar, and will decorate their pottery with natural materials.


3rd-8th grade


SS.A.6.2.5, VA.A.1.2.1, VA.A.1.2.2, VA.A.1.2.3, VA.A.1.2.4


Classroom pre- or post-visit activity, 30 minutes


Timucua potters made their pots from clay deposits found in the area. They also made patterns on their pots.

Patterns served a number of purposes: 1) they allowed heat to be more evenly distributed while cooking, 2) they made the pots easier to hold so they wouldn't slip from your hands, 3) they made the pots beautiful.

Timucua potters would make decorations on their pots using: 1) wooden paddles: most often these had straight lines carved in them both vertically and horizontally, and when pressed against the clay they produced a checkerboard pattern that archaeologists call "check-stamping" 2) pointed objects: a pointed object, such as a stick with a carved tip, would be scratched across the surface to produce patterns of lines, both curved and straight. Archaeologists call this "incised" pottery.

Other groups of Florida Indians decorated their pots with: 1) shells to stamp a pattern 2) corn cobs to roll a pattern 3) cord or woven material wrapped around a wooden paddle and pressed onto the surface.

Clay pots were used by the Timucua for storing and cooking food. They made their pots using the "coiling" method. They did this by rolling the clay into long circular "tube" shapes. These were made into circles or rings, then stacked and blended together one at a time to form a circular pot. Pots were air dried then heated in an open fire to harden.

Clay pots are very heavy. When these vessels broke, the broken pieces were thrown into a trash pile, called a midden. Archaeologists can learn alot from trash middens. When they find a broken piece of pottery they can tell how old it is by looking at the designs on it.


Directions to make the clay:

1 cup of flour
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of water

With adult supervision: Mix all ingredients in a pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until a ball forms or about 4 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool for about 5 minutes. Divide and knead dough pieces with food coloring (color each piece a different color) and a drop of vanilla for scent if you like, and then cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Have the students shape the dough into a bowl or cup - they could try coiling their pots like the Timucua did. Provide different materials for them to make patterns on their pots.

idea found at: http://pelotes.jea.com

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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