Grey-brown, shell-tempered Native ceramic body sherd with smooth, un-decorated surfaces.
Throughout the Woodland Period, Wampanoag potters replaced sand and gravel temper with shell. Pieces of shell were leftover from shell bead making or from eating shellfish and were crushed and added to the clay to prevent it from shrinking or cracking while being fired, a process called tempering. Tempering prevents the clay from shrinking or cracking while its fired, which would have been important for not only the potters but for anyone cooking with these pots. The differences in the temper material, not the decorations, are how archaeologists date Wampanoag pottery. The acidic soils of New England have dissolved the shell from many pieces of pottery found archaeologically, leaving empty pockets in the clay, but you can see some of the shell in sherds pictured here.