Date of Award

Spring 5-2012

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Chair

Edwin Jackson

Committee Chair Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 2

Marie Danforth

Committee Member 2 Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 3

Bridget Hayden

Committee Member 3 Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 4

Greg Waselkov


This thesis is a study of the Aboriginal ceramics recovered from the French Warehouse site (22HR638 or GUIS 98) located on Ship Island, a barrier island in the Mississippi Sound. The goals of the thesis are to determine both the regional source(s) of the pottery and date(s) of site occupation by identifying temper agents and ceramic types and varieties. It also seeks to determine the nature of site use by analysis of vessel form and function. Two scenarios are explored. If the ceramic vessels are of homogeneous forms, then they are likely products of trade alone. However, if they are heterogeneous, then they are likely products of kitchen activities, suggesting the presence of an Aboriginal woman.

The Aboriginal ceramic assemblage is comprised of 453 vessel fragments. Sand (n = 302) and shell (n = 137) are the predominant temper agents, indicating affiliation with the Mississippi Gulf Coast's La Pointe phase ceramic complex (1699-1775). The presence of grog-tempered sherds (n = 8) indicates affiliation with the Lower Mississippi Valley. These findings, coupled with documentary evidence, suggest that residential site occupation stretched from the 1720s to the 1760s.

In terms of the nature of site use, findings of restricted and unrestricted bowls, cooking jars, and storage vessels indicate kitchen use. Using the direct historical approach in site interpretation, anomalous decorative motifs comparable to "worm track" designs on contemporary Indian basketry suggest that the Aboriginal cook was Chitimachan.

By incorporating the Aboriginal component into site interpretation, this thesis presents a more complete picture of Ship Island's French Warehouse site.