The Telltale Sherds

Archeologist Kathleen Gilmore found one puzzling, unidentifiable group of green-glazed ceramic sherds in the materials recovered from 1951 excavations at the Keeran Site. The earthenware weighed on her mind in the years after she completed her analysis. As it developed, these sherds were to provide the conclusive evidence for her that the Keeran Site was Fort St. Louis.

 As Gilmore wrote in a 1986 article in the Bulletin of Texas Archeology, the Keeran site collection included “one group of French sherds of a type that, to the best of the writer’s knowledge, does not occur at any other site in Texas. The interiors are covered with a white slip over which a green glaze was applied; this glaze varies from dull greenish yellow to deep grass green. The lips on these sherds have been rolled onto the exterior, making them much thicker than the bodies of the sherds.  The paste is buff to pink, with red specks. At the time of the original analysis, this ware was thought probably to have been made in France.”

“Research carried out in both Canada and France since that time has shown definitely that the ware originated in Saintonge, France, not far from La Rochelle, which was the center of colonial trade and the port where La Salle embarked on his last adventure.  Unmistakable clues to this origin are the paste, the glaze technique, and the rim treatment.”

Download Gilmore 1986 pdf

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