The application of petrographic techniques to the study of archaeological ceramics.

My research in this area has been addressed at using optical petrology techniques to determine the provenance of the tempering material, as well as the clays, in pottery. I have also been investigating how chemical characterization of the paste (clay minerals) component of the pottery may or may not be useful in determining the provenance.

Although I have retired from University, I am still working on archaeological ceramics, mainly through ceramic petrography investigation.  If you have a project that you need a skilled ceramic petrologist, I am always interested.  Drop me an email and we can discuss it.

Here are a few examples of the projects I have been involved. These are available as PDF's on RESEARCH GATE and

Smith, M.S., Loftfield, T.C. and Paulsson, F.M. (1995) Preliminary investigation of orange micaceous earthenware from the early Colonial Period Charles Towne colony, Cape Fear River, North Carolina: Implications for local manufacture. In P. Vandiver, J. Druzik, J. L. Galvan Madrid, I. Freestone, and G. S. Wheeler (eds.), Materials Issues in Art and Archaeology IV, v. 352, Materials Research Society, Pittsburgh, PA, 589-595.

Smith, M.S. (1995) Petrographic, chemical and mineral characterization of Colonowares (Yaughan and River Burnished) from the Broom Hall Plantation. In Trinkley, M. et al. (eds.) Broom Hall Plantation: "A Pleasant One and in a Good Neighborhood", Research Series 44, Chicora Foundation, Inc. Columbia, South Carolina, 316-324.

Smith, M.S. (1997) Petrographic and mineral characterization of Thom's Creek Plain Sherds. In Trinkley, M. and Hacker, D.(eds.) Excavations at a portion of the Secessionville archaeological site (38CH14566), James Island, Charleston County, South Carolina, Research Series 52, Chicora Foundation, Inc., Columbia, SC, 171-174.

Smith, M.S. and Loftfield, T.C. (1998) Discerning the provenance of earthenware and building materials from the early Colonial Period (1664 - 1667) Charles Towne colony, Cape Fear River, North Carolina using ceramic petrology techniques. Pioneer America Society Abstracts with Program, A3.

Smith, Michael, Stapleton, Colleen P. and Trinkley, Michael (2001) Comparison of weak acid extraction chemistry and electron microprobe analysis of paste compositions for a suite of colonoware pottery, Broom Hall Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina. Geol. Soc. America Abstr. with Programs, v. 33, no. 2, A31.

O'Connor, Barbara Cox and Smith, Michael S. (2001) Results of petrographic analysis using prehistoric ceramics from St. Croix. Aruba Conference of the International Congress of Caribbean Archaeologists, May 28, 2001, Abstracts with Programs.

Smith, M. S. (2001) Comparative petrographic investigation of ceramics from Charles Towne Landing State Park, Charleston, South Carolina. In: Stoner and South (eds.) Exploring 1670 Charles Towne: 38CH1A/B - Final Archaeology Report. Research Manuscript Series 230. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, Columbia, pp. 104-115.

O'Connor, Barbara Cox and Smith, Michael S. (2002) Comparative ceramic petrography of pottery from St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands: Aklis, Salt River, Prosperity and Northside sites. Proceedings of the Aruba Conference of the International Congress of Caribbean Archaeologists.

Burdette, Kemp M. and Smith, Michael S. (2003) The introduction and use of ballast stones in the Cape Fear Region: An underutilized tool for archaeologist and historians. North Carolina Academy of Science, Abstracts.

O'Connor, Barbara Cox and Smith, Michael S. (2003) Petrographic analysis of ceramic sherds from the Peter Bay and Trunk Bay prehistoric sites on St. John, United States Virgin Islands. International Congress of Caribbean Archaeologists, Proceedings, Dominican Republic, 29 June - 06 July, 2003, abstract 46.

Cranfill, M. Rhonda and Smith, Michael S. (2004) Mineralogical and petrological investigation of historic St. Mary's City orange micaeous ceramics. Geol. Soc. America Abstr. with Programs, v. 33, no. 2, 65.

Herbert, Joe and Smith, Michael S. (2004) A chemical and petrographic study of the origins of prehistoric pottery in the North Carolina Sandhills. Geol. Soc. America Abstr. with Programs, v. 36, no. 2., 65.

Smith, Michael and Herbert, Joseph M. (2004). Clay Source Areas and Woodland Land Use in the Carolina Sandhills. Proceedings volume (October 20 - 23, 2004) of joint meeting of the 61st Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC) and the 50th Midwestern Archaeological Conference (MAC), St. Louis, MO, Bulletin 47.

PDF available at

Catlin, Brianne L., Smith, Michael S., and Petersen, James A. (2005) Mineralogical and petrological investigation of prehistoric ceramic sherds from the island of Anguilla in the Lesser Antilles Island chain of the Caribbean. Geol. Soc. America Abstr. with Programs, v. 37, no. 7, 276.

Herbert, Joseph M., McReynolds, Theresa E., Smith, Michael S., Speakman, Robert J. and Glascock, Michael D. (2005) Clay Sources, Pottery Production and Circulation in the Carolina Sandhills. Proceedings of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC), Columbia, SC, November 2-6, 2005.

Smith, Michael S. and Trinkley, Michael. (2006) Stallings Island Culture Fiber-Tempered Pottery: A Mineralogical and Petrographical Study. In M. Maggetti and B. Messiga (eds) Geomaterials in Cultural Heritage, Geological Society ( London) Special Publication 257, 119-125.

O'Connor, Barbara Cox and Michael S. Smith (2006) Petrographic Analysis of Ceramic Sherds from the Prehistoric Sites of Peter Bay and Trunk Bay, St. John, United States Virgin Islands. Proceedings XX International Congress of Caribbean Archaeology, 29 June - 06 July, 2003, Symposium V, v. 1, 383-390.

Smith, M. S. (2007) Ceramic Petrology Investigation Of Barbadian-Style Pottery From Charles Towne Landing State Park and the City of Charleston, South Carolina. Internal report for Charleston Museum, Charleston, South Carolina.

Smith, Michael S., Herbert, Joseph M., and McReynolds, Theresa E. (2008) Diabase-tempered Woodlands Period ceramics from the Fort Bragg region of the North Carolina Sandhills: A ceramic petrology study. Geol. Soc. America Abstr. with Programs, v. 40, no. 4, 71.

Smith, Michael S. (2008). Petrography (Chapter 6). In: Herbert, Joseph M. and McReynolds, Theresa E. (eds.) Woodland Pottery Sourcing in the Carolina Sandhills. Research Laboratories of Archaeology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Research Report No. 29, 73-107.

PDF available at

Smith, Michael S. (2008). Appendix D: Petrographic Data. In: Herbert, Joseph M. and McReynolds, Theresa E. (eds.) Woodland Pottery Sourcing in the Carolina Sandhills. Research Laboratories of Archaeology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Research Report No. 29, 142-170.

PDF available at

Herbert, Joseph M. and Smith, Michael S. (2010). Identifying Grog In Archaeological Pottery. ReArc (Reconstructive/Experimental Archaeology) Conference (Gastonia, NC), October 2010. Conference program.

Herbert, Joseph M., Smith, Michael S. and Cordell, Ann S. A Petrographic Study of Hanover Phase Ceramics. “Across the Border - An Archaeological and Environmental Discussion of the Sandhills Physiographic Province: A View from North and South Carolina,” Weymouth Woods, Southern Pines, NC, August 2011.

The pre-Yellowstone caldera (2.2 ± 0.16 Ma) volcanic history of the Hepburn Mesa basalts, upper Yellowstone River Valley, Montana.

The evolution of the Yellowstone volcanic field and the bimodal volcanism found in the region are related to the Yellowstone hot spot. Although there has been a lot of investigation within the park boundaries and to the west, there has been very little examination of the basalt flows and dikes in the upper Yellowstone River valley. These basalts show isotopic evidence that suggests that they were erupted with little contamination from the surrounding country rock. This, coupled with the Ar-Ar age date on the upper flow, indicates these basalt flows were probably some of the first material erupted during the development of the pre-caldera Yellowstone volcanic field.

Yellowstone Valley (locally called the Paradise Valley) - north of Yellowstone National Park - view looking east, south of the small hamlet of Emigrant. Flat platform in foreground is an uplifted river terrace, mesa to the background is Hepburn Mesa, where Yellowstone River gravels are capped by a 2.2 +/- 0.1 Ma. basalt flows. Photograph by Michael S. Smith.

Smith, M., Lageson, D., Heatherington, A., and Harlan, S. (1995) Geochronology, geochemistry and isotope systematics of the basalt of Hepburn Mesa, Yellowstone River valley, Montana. Geological Society of America Abstr. with Programs, v. 27, no. 4, 56.

Gridley, David and Smith, Michael S. (2004) The Gardiner Basalts: Petrological and geochemical comparison with the Hepburn Mesa and Yellowstone National Park basalts. Geol. Soc. America Abstr. with Programs, v. 36, no. 2., 103.

Smith, M., Lageson, D., Heatherington, A., and Harlan, S. (manuscript). Pre-Yellowstone Caldera magmatic activity in southwestern Montana: The 2.2 ± 0.2 Ma Hepburn Mesa basalts.

The Life and Times of William Alonzo Allen

The story of William Alonzo Allen is the story of the westward expansion and settlement of the Montana and Wyoming Territories. But, it is also a story of the self-made (and self-publicized) man in the American West. Allen was a gold miner, blacksmith, gunsmith, stockraiser and businessman, an adventurer, explorer and big game hunter when the occasion warranted, and one of the earliest dentist to make a home in eastern Montana. His travels from his birthplace in Ohio to the Dakota, Wyoming and Montana Territories revolves around the history making events of the 1870's. His life covered travel by foot and horseback to an age when continents were spanned easily by the commercial airplane. He experienced the aftermath of the Civil War, the Indian Wars of the plains and territories, the First World War and died as the United States was entering the Second World War to recover the European continent from Hitler.

This historical project will ultimately result in a biographical monograph (or at least a couple of papers) - but see the attached link for updates on "Doc Allen." Additional information on William Alonzo Allen and his extensive (and a bit confusing) family are also available on a set of public pages on ANCESTRY.COM that I maintain.

Adventures with Indians and Game, or Twenty Years in the Rocky Mountains


The ACE Doubles: tęte-bęche Publishing

This is another oddball historical project dealing with an interesting publication style in softcover (paperback) books that started in the late 1950's. My interest in science fiction was fueled by my uncle's collection of these books (and my introduction to them at an early age). For a variety of reasons (none of which are very serious; including some articles on this genre for popular culture journals), I have started an image library of the covers, publication history, and errata of these books. The primary reference for anyone interested in this style of publication is James A. Corrick (1991) Double Your Pleasure: The ACE SF Double, Gryphon Books (Brooklyn). ISBN: 0-936071-21-4.

The image library is separated into ACE SF Doubles and Singles sections as well as the ACE Doubles and Singles for mystery, westerns and unclassified topics (Potpourri). A reference section has been added (always under construction - please be patient) that addresses authors, cover artists, and other background material.

Please recognize that although the ACE Doubles are often listed as a dos-ŕ-dos publication format, this is incorrect (you learn something everyday). The proper term for this publication style is tęte-bęche and I discuss this in the "Other" page on the ACE IMAGE LIBRARY homepage. Please check this out.

ACE Doubles (and Singles) Image Library

Status of pages:

The ACE SF Doubles are mostly completed (but I am missing a few images - keep your eyes open for them - especially in the 5 digit numerical series of the late 1970's).

The ACE Double Mystery and Western sections are continually being added to, so take a look.

The ACE Singles image library (for science fiction, mystery and western genres) is now on-line.

Pages for the ACE publication of the Perry Rhodan science fiction genre as well as the spin-off ACE novels for the Man From U.N.C.L.E. television show are now available. I am looking for good images of the Prisoner series - I have the first three published by ACE, but there are others I do not have access to at this time.

I have also updated the LINKS page as well as two new pages that deal with the "Nick Carter" adventure series and the publication history of "other" double-format paperbacks similar to the ACE Doubles. At this time I have incorporated the TOR, BELMONT, and SIGNET Double format volumes, as well as MAGABOOK and a number of odd-balls. I am always looking for additional images and information on these publications - so drop me an email if you have further information or images.

Finally, a series of pages have been developed to START to address the other ACE publications. These Potpourri pages cover the historical, political, tawdry and obscure stories and tales published as ACE singles. Please take a look at the links for these pages.

Last update 28 October 2021