Abstract Over the last two decades, archaeologists working in the ancestral Caddo area have amassed a sizeable instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) dataset (n = 1308 sherds). We examine a subset (n = 88 sherds) of that larger dataset—shell-tempered Caddo ceramics—to examine the issue of ceramic provenance determinations from INAA in the Caddo area. Current analyses of INAA data from Caddo area shell-tempered ceramics mistakenly suggest that very distinctive shell-tempered ceramics were manufactured throughout East Texas and not traded and/or exchanged from one sub-region to another. Through the protocol of removing calcium-related geochemicals from statistical calculations of elemental values, shell-tempered sherds have lost their distinctive chemical signature. The methodological approach employed herein illustrates the potential for significant gains in exploring the provenance of Caddo ceramics using INAA, through the use of geochemicals found to correlate with the inclusion of shell temper.