Anomalous Sherds – Sand Lake Archaeological District
Over 9,300 pottery sherds were collected during 2008 excavations at one of the sites in the Sand Lake Archaeological District, near Onalaska, Wisconsin. Of those, nearly 160 rims and decorated body sherds were categorized into likely ceramic wares and types based on their grit or shell temper, form, and decoration. But categories created by archaeologists today to make sense of what people made in the past cannot neatly cover everything. A small group of anomalous sherds, all from different excavation units, had distinctive characteristics but defied classification into types. One grit-tempered rim (upper left) flares to a flattened lip and has a cord marked exterior surface. Another cord roughened grit-tempered sherd (upper right) thins to a rounded lip. It may fit the local Middle Woodland type Shorewood Cord Roughened. A third rim has a cord impression over a folded lip (lower right). It is grit-tempered but might also contain shell temper, a possible mix of Terminal Late Woodland and Mississippian clay preparations. One grit-tempered body sherd has parallel tool trails (lower left). It could be from a Terminal Late Woodland type vessel or from a rare grit-tempered Oneota pot.