The Rochester Museum and Science Center contains approximately a dozen prehistoric pottery specimens that were collected from Southeast Missouri during the late 1800s/early 1900s.

The most interesting specimen in the Rochester collection is a bowl from Mississippi County (Missouri) with fine shell temper and a red slipped interior. Two opposing rim adornments on the bowl resemble the segmented tail of a snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina). A more sinister interpretation is that the adornments were meant to represent the sternum bone in the chest of a human (an interesting thought if the adornments were literally labels for bowl contents in ritual contexts). The presence if the rim adornments and red slip would suggest a ceramic tradition akin to the Moorehead Phase at Cahokia, approximately AD 1200 to 1275.

The most likely site of origin for this bowl is Beckwith Fort (Towosaghy State Park) though other less likely sites would include Penhook Ridge, Drinkwater, or the Barnes Ridge site.



Mississippi Co., MO. Coarse shell temper and 4 handles. Probably from the same site as the bowl.





New Madrid Co., Mo. Burnished Fine Shell Temper. AR 17654. 2 sets of 2 holes on opposing points along the rim. The New Madrid County site that yielded this vessel was probably the Matthews Site where many early excavations were conducted (both scientific and unscientific) during the 1800s. It is also possible that the site could be the Spanish Grant Site, Landers Mound, or Lilbourn Mounds.



New Madrid Co., Mo. Pinched decoration on the rim of the vessel.



New Madrid Co., Mo. Bottle with 4 dimples



New Madrid Co., MO. Bottle with 4 masks (long nose god?), Medium to Coarse shell temper, Reg. no. AR10105. This is the second most interesting specimen in the collection because of the presence of deity masks.






New Madrid Co., MO. Open bowl with applique decoration that may represent snakes. Similar decoeration on anthromorphic jars often denotes collar bones.





New Madrid Co., MO. Fine Shell tempered bottle. Reg. no. 1765.



Missouri, Fine shell temper with lugs. Fine shell temper.





Perry Co., MO. Medium shell tempered vessel with 5 lobed body form similar to a squash.







Chipped chert stone spade with silica polish (corn gloss) along the bit end.