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The archeologists use the term "ground-up shell" to designate a type of temper used for pottery. What is this material? Earth containing fossilized mollusk shells? I noticed the term is also used in texts about oysters.

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I'm not sure this is the best place to ask.

Ground-up shell means just that - shells that have been ground (reduced to small particles or powder by crushing it).

Shell tempering is one of the hallmarks of Mississippian cultural practices. It is often characterized by the adoption and use of riverine, usually mussel shells, (or more rarely marine) shell-tempering agents in the clay paste.

Read more here: https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Shell%20tempered%20pottery&item_type=topic

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    $\begingroup$ Ahh, I see now, so it's a man-made material (by grinding), not a raw product. Sorry, I thought it's a natural material. $\endgroup$ – Fructibus Oct 5 '17 at 15:06

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