Florida Museum of Natural History
Florida Museum of Natural History Historical Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History

About the Ceramic Type Collection


The Ceramic Type collection of the Florida Museum of Natural History historical archaeology laboratory has three major components. These include the Historical Archaeology Type collections (HATC), The Lister Collection (LC), and the Illustrated Collection (IC).

The Historical Archaeology Type collections (HATC)

The origins for the Florida Museum of Natural History’s historical archaeology type collections lie in some of the first systematic historical archaeological research to be conducted in the United States and Latin America. The ceramic type collections were first compiled by John Goggin of the University of Florida during his pioneering work in Spanish colonial archaeology between 1949 and 1958. Goggin collaborated with archaeologists working at colonial-period sites in Florida, Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Honduras. In some cases he and colleagues conducted stratigraphic excavations, and in others he made surface collection of single-component, well-dated sites. Arguably, the most important result of this work was Goggin’s development and publication of typologies for Spanish majolica (Goggin 1968) and Spanish olive jars (Goggin 1960a), which still serve as the primary reference sources in the field.

During Goggin’s research, large samples of majolica and other Spanish earthenwares were donated to the University of Florida as type collections. Most of these are well-documented as to provenience, with surviving notes and information from such donors as John Griffin, Hale Smith, Emile Boyrie, José Cruxent, Irving Rouse, Oswaldo Morales PatiZo, J.O. Brew, Alfredo Boulton and many others. These artifacts served not only as the “index specimens” for Goggin’s type descriptions, but also as the illustrations for his books.

After John Goggin’s death in 1963, his material culture research was continued by Charles Fairbanks of the University of Florida. Fairbanks expanded research on Spanish colonial ceramics beyond majolica and Olive jars, and the specimens upon which his research and publications were based were incorporated into the ceramic type collections (Fairbanks 1966; 1968; 1972a). Between 1968 and 1980 Fairbanks and his students also developed a pioneering program of archaeology at plantation and slave sites in Florida and Georgia (Ascher and Fairbanks 1968; Fairbanks 1972b; Otto 1984; Singleton 1980). This work led to several major archaeological research collections reflecting plantation and African-American life in the eighteenth and ante-bellum nineteenth centuries, and representative diagnostic specimens from these sites have also been incorporated into the historical archaeology type collections.

Fairbanks also extended Goggin’s unpublished work on Spanish colonial beads to develop a typology and analysis protocol that have remained both valid and current in the field of historical archaeology (Fairbanks 1968a-b; Goggin 1960b, see also Deagan 1987, Smith 1983). The beads upon which both Goggin’s and Fairbanks’s research was based still remain today in the Florida Museum of Natural History bead type collection. They include 479 glass and lapidary (mineral) beads from 44 sites in Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean, Venezuela and Panama. Many of these beads also served as the basis for the original descriptions of such types as Nueva Cadiz, Chevron, Seven-Oaks Gilded Molded, Ichtucknee Blue and Florida Cut Crystal beads

Both the ceramic and bead type collections were expanded during the 1980's and 1990's by Kathleen Deagan. Through systematic excavations in St. Augustine, Florida, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Deagan was able to refine the typology and dating of many types, as well as to add new types and new specimens to the collections (see Deagan 1987; 2002). The materials on which this work was based (as well as the illustrations in the publications) have been incorporated into the type collection.

The Lister Collection

In 1990, an extremely important addition to the historical archaeology type collection was made through the donation of Florence and Robert Lister’s stunning collection of Spanish and Spanish colonial archaeological ceramics. Between 1972 and 1986 the Listers worked with archaeologists in Spain, Mexico, Italy, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama, Peru, Venezuela and Ecuador in the analysis of colonial-period ceramic assemblages in those countries. Representative type specimens from each of the sites studied were donated to the Listers as part of the process, and by 1984, Florence and Robert Lister had compiled a collection of more than 2,000 well-documented specimens. These ceramics provided the basis ( and many of the illustrations) for a seminal series of publications by Florence and Robert Lister that established much of the Spanish colonial period ceramic terminology and cultural interpretation that is in general use throughout the Americas and Europe today (Lister and Lister 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1987).

The majority of ceramics in the Lister collection are from Spain, Mexico and Central and South America, and the collection also includes specimens from Morocco, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. This greatly enhances and complements the Goggin-Fairbanks type collections, which emphasize the Caribbean and Florida. Taken together, these collections provide an unparalleled resource for colonial-era ceramics that is not duplicated anywhere in the world.

The Illustrated Collections

Many of the artifacts in our type collection have been illustrated in the publications noted above. For ease of access for researchers, these have been physically segregated into our “Illustrated Collection”. They are all included in the on-line type collection database, along with their published references.

The Research collections

In addition to the Type Collections, the Florida Museum of Natural History historical archaeology laboratory maintains a Research Collection of more than 2,000,000 artifacts. These include the excavated materials from over 100 sites, and their associated excavation records. Most of these are catalogued into the Historical Archaeology Laboratory’s computerized Research Database.