Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Michael S. Nassaney

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Dieffenderfer Ware is a recently defined ceramic type found exclusively at the Dieffenderfer site (20SJ179) in southwest Michigan. This Late Woodland (ca. A.D. 1000-1400) pottery exhibits Iroquoian traits which are atypical in this region, but beyond that, very little is known about this ceramic type and the people that produced it. Research assessing the social agency of the producers of Dieffenderfer Ware was carried out by employing the chaine operatoire model, which examines the life history of artifacts. Dieffenderfer Ware was compared to the locally produced Allegan Ware. Social groups will procure, construct, use, and discard ceramics differently. Significant differences were observed in most of the stages of the chaine operatoire suggesting that Dieffenderfer Ware was produced by a non-local group. Dieffenderfer Ware appears to be have been used more as a food processing and cooking vessel, whereas, Allegan Ware appears to be more of a multi-functional vessel with an emphasis on storage and transportability. Documentation of differences in Iroquoian and Algonquian pottery in the Northeast seem to correlate with Dieffenderfer Ware and Allegan Ware and it is likely that the social and economic structures that existed in these two ethnic groups produced the variation that is evident in this pottery from southwest Michigan.