Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Dr. Joanna Casey

Second Reader

Dr. Karen Smith


Four thousand years ago, Late Archaic peoples along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia accumulated mollusk shells into enormous, circular structures known as shell rings. The purpose of these rings has been a subject of archaeological debate for decades, with no clear consensus as to whether they are accidental accumulations of domestic refuse, or intentionally constructed landscape markers with ceremonial or symbolic meaning. This paper presents the results of a morphological and functional analysis of ceramic vessels excavated from the Pockoy Island Shell Rings, a double shell ring site located on the shore of Edisto Island, South Carolina, in order to understand the social activities that took place there, as well as to compare these results to ceramic assemblages from similar shell ring sites. Digital modeling software was used to identify vessels and their potential functions, in order to expand our understanding of Late Archaic ceramics and what they can tell us about the social activities that took place at the site. The results suggest an assemblage of vessels of generally greater size than those normally found at coastal Late Archaic sites, as well as the presence of previously undescribed vessel forms. From a social perspective, the results also suggest that Pockoy Island was much more than just a habitation site.

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