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Dating methods for prehistoric ceramics are dependent on typologies which were developed through careful analysis of such attributes as temper, decoration, design and form.
For many native groups’ specific tempers, forms, designs and/or decorations have been attributed.
Through many years of work on archaeological sites of different specific native groups a typology of pottery has been developed.
Today many vessels can be easily identified with the use of this typology because there are so many different styles, each of which is attributed to different culture groups and periods.
Due to technological advances especially during the mid-16 centuries, pottery craftsmen were able to create more refined pastes (less porous), glazes more purified in color and new methods of decorating the pottery (from hand painted to transfer printed) as time went on.
Many of these characteristics are easy to identify just by looking at the artifact, but determining the date or date range of production is not always easy.
Over the years archaeologists have identified different methods on how to date different types of artifacts.
The same process of collecting data from various sites over many years has also provided archaeologists with a projectile point typology.
These typologies like that of the prehistoric pottery vary from region to region, but each typology is developed using the shape, size and lithic type of projectile points and context in which they were recovered.
It is these changes in how the ceramics were produced that created subtle clues to help the discerning eye determine the specific type of ceramic.