Before we begin describing the various Hohokam pottery types, it is
important to explain a few things first. Lets start with paint color,
specifically, red paint (hematite). The color of red paint can vary.
It is usually blood red, but can range from light red to very dark red.
Some sherds or vessels that went through a secondary fire, such as a
house burning, can darken the red paint so that it looks black and can
be confused with black painted types. However, these burned sherds or
vessels will look burned and the natural or slipped background color
will look darkened as well.
Most of the Red-on-Buff types from in and around the Phoenix basin are
buff slipped, however, a diagnostic trait for the Sacaton Phase is a
brighter more white colored slip than the earlier types. An argument
could be made that many of these are white slipped, after all, many
Sacaton Buffwares are as white as many Tucson basin red-on-white varieties.
However, the Sacaton and later types are well known as buffware types,
the latest (and brightest) in a long buffware series, and described
as such in this guide.
Many decorated vessels found in and around the Tucson basin are white
slipped. Some of these may intentionally be buff slipped. However, it
would not be feasible for archaeologists to recognize these two slips
as varieties or separate types. Trying to determine the subtle minute
differences would likely prove grossly inaccurate (for example, it would
be difficult to determine if a sherd is intentionally buff slipped,
or a dirt-stained, white slipped sherd). I have listed a buff slipped
Saguaro Polychrome variety. Saguaro
Polychrome employs white paint, consequently white paint on a white
slip would not have been feasible. The slip must have intended to be
buff in color so that there would be some degree of contrast. (Most
Saguaro Polychrome designs are decorated on natural brown exteriors
and black smudged interior backgrounds, exhibiting good contrast.)
Another thing to explain is the background colors of the Red-on-Brown
types. The natural background color of pottery may fire to several different
colors ranging from tan to brown to a deep orange. Many of these brownware
vessels have a natural orange background color that often looks like
an applied slip. However, it is the iron in the clay that when fired
to a certain temperature, brings out the orange color. The paste can
be orange all the way thru, or usually if smudged, the orange can be
varied in thickness, appearing to look like a slip towards the opposite
surface, while towards the smudged surface the color can be tan, brown,
gray, or black.
Smudged pots usually have a black background color, however, many Tucson
Basin Brownware Smudged vessels can vary from black to light gray with
many of them having “patches” of brown showing in places
where the smudge did not “take” well.
When learning pottery types, keep in mind that there are always exceptions
to the rules. Pottery designs and forms tend to overlap. While some
potters in a village or pueblo may begin producing new forms and/or
designs, others probably continued producing vessels the traditional
way, until the demand for the traditional vessels passed. This could
easily have taken up to 25 years or more. This is why all dates for all types are approximate.
Many pottery types were named on the basis of difference in design.
Usually the only time they named a new type on the basis of design is
when the design marked a temporal shift in time, or a specific regional
location. However, most archaeologists named pottery types based on
the technological differences. Some of these differences include, method
of manufacture (paddle and anvil, or coil and scrape), form, temper,
and texturing. However, the most basic technological differences were
the different colors of pottery. This most commonly includes background
color. Two common pottery type examples from Anasazi/Mogollon culture
are Puerco Black-on-White, and Puerco Black-on-Red. Both Puerco Black-on-White,
and Puerco Black-on-Red, employs the same color of paint, share many
design styles, vessel forms, etc., yet they are known as different types.
The only difference between these two types are the white and red background
colors. There are also many other well known examples from several different
cultures, that mirror this same point. Paint and background colors often
vary in light to dark shades of the named color. Many named "Redwares"
are actually "Orangewares", often "Whitewares" are
Some Tucson basin brownware types have different background colors other
than brown. Some are slipped red, some slipped white, and some are smudged
black. I personally feel that if a background color (or a paint) was
intended technologically to be a different color, then it should be
described as a different type. Respectfully, archaeologists working
in the Tucson basin did not seem to follow the same rules that archaeologists
working most anywhere else did. I realize that at the time, several
decades ago, archaeologists found so few examples of these different
“varieties” that they were regarded as rare variants. However,
recent archaeological work has “proved” that these were
well represented types found throughout the Tucson Basin. During different
periods of time at Los Morteros (a prehistoric settlement in the northern
Tucson basin) as much as 75% of the decorated bowls found had a slipped
white background color, and during another period of time, as much as
75% of the decorated bowls found were smudged (Wallace 1995:301).
In this guide I have listed both the white slipped and smudged varieties
as separate types, but only if the primary design is painted on the
white slip or smudge. I have listed these according to their phase names
and background color (two examples given; Tanque Verde Red-on-White,
and Tanque Verde Red-on-Black). I believe archaeologists have done enough
work in and around the Tucson basin to realize that Tanque Verde Red-on-White,
and Tanque Verde Red-on-Black, were commonly made, and that these (as
well as other slipped or smudged wares in other phases) should lose
variety status and become types. Doing this would bring much more sensibility
and order in listing types and varieties in the Tucson Basin. I agree
with Deaver that many named varieties are “cumbersome”,
“contradictory and illogical” (Deaver 1989;48,49). Respectfully,
for example, Beckwith describes a Tanque Verde Red-on-Brown variant
as “Tanque Verde Red-on-Brown, Black-on-Brown, White Slipped Variant”
(Beckwith 1987; 209). When a student archaeologist reads that, three
different vessels pop into mind, until the student remembers it is only
one vessel being described. Why not save time and ink and describe it
as it is…..Tanque Verde Black-on-White, now when you read Tanque
Verde Black-on-White, you immediately know exactly what is being described.
Respectfully, two other examples I would like to mention are vessels
described by Wallace and Heidke. The first vessel has black painted
designs (on a Rincon Redware) and is described by Wallace,1986;87. The
second vessel has white painted designs (on a Rincon Redware) and is
described by Heidke (Wallace, 1995;340). Both vessels are described
as Rincon Polychrome Variants. However, because these vessels are in
fact bichromes (two colors) they should not be considered polychrome
(three or more colors). Although these vessels are rare, in this guide
I list these as separate types; Rincon Black-on-Red, and Rincon White-on-Red.
There is nothing in the rules of priority that state one needs a certain
amount of sherds or vessels to warrant naming a type. Haury named Sweetwater
Polychrome on the assemblage of one vessel and six sherds (Haury,1976;219-220).
Another rare type he named is Santa Cruz Buff, which is stated to be made in only
one form – a strap handled jar (Haury,1965;185).
For most types in this guide, there is a "key differences"
section. It lists the most common and obvious difference(s) for the
type. This section describes what is different or unique for the type
compared to others. But keep in mind, there are always exceptions to
the rules. For example, while it is true many Santa Cruz and Rillito
types have finer fine line work than other types, (which often is the
key hallmark for defining the type), not all do. Larger vessels tend
to have larger line work. There are also crude examples in just about
all types and phases of most all prehistoric cultures. Perhaps, from
the result of “beginner potters” or a potter rushing to
fill a “large order”.
Red bowls often have smudged interiors and these two varieties (smudged
and non-smudged) have been described as different types, Gila Red, and
Gila Smudged (Haury:1945;81). This can be confusing because Gila Plain
is often smudged. In this guide "Gila Red Smudged" and
"Gila Plain Smudged" are listed as varieties of Gila Red and
In this guide I only try to list types and/or varieties that have technical attributes observable on the surface of vessels, not so much the interiors or paste recipes. Wood lists no less than twelve
varieties of Gila Red based primarily on temper, (paste) (Wood,1987;166). Quite
often temper is not easily identifiable and one would need a micro-scope
or magnifying glass and familiarity of mineralogy to determine most
of these varieties. You would also need to break a whole vessel to see the temper of many types or varieties.
Only the types or varieties that I have seen with easily observable
temper on the surface of vessels, will most likely be described or mentioned
in this guide. Often vessels are described with having no mica in the
temper, however if you slightly move the sherd or vessel at angles under
bright light, you may see very fine mica particles shining. Usually
the only time I describe a type or variety as having mica or any other
temper, is if you can easily see it on the surface without having to
hunt for it.
When it comes to ceramics I am personally a "lumper" and a
"splitter". I am a "splitter" in the sense
that if the primary background, or any paint color of a vessel was intended
technologically to be different from other types, then, in my opinion, it is
a different type, and should be described as such no matter how rare (Emil Haury named Sweetwater Polychrome based on 6 sherds and 1 vessel,
Haury 1976;219-220). I am also a "lumper" in the sense that
I believe in the type-variety concept, especially when it comes to "temper-types".
"Temper-types" is a label I have given to "types" that were named based
on the type of temper used in the paste, even though the exterior colors,
styles, and forms are exactly the same as a broader common type. I believe
in describing these "temper types" as varieties of existing
types, however I do not believe they should be described as separate
wares and types. Doing so only confuses the picture.
a petrographic analysis on sherds from different sites are bound to
reveal site to site differences. For example, one site may use
an average of 60% crushed quartz as a temper, while another site a mile
away, may use an average of 20%. Is this a valid reason to name
a new type and ware? Not only are there likely to be site to site differences,
but there is also likely to be potter to potter differences at the same
site. If there were several potters at a site, there
may have been personal preferences as to what types or amounts of temper
used. I am reasonably sure of this as I have had the pleasure of doing
some excavating on a privately owned Tanque Verde Phase site near Tucson.
After cleaning and studying thousands of Tanque Verde decorated sherds,
I noticed that most had sand temper, many had Biotite (gold mica) temper,
and many had Muscovite (silver mica) temper. At first, I thought the
mica-tempered varieties were tradewares, but then I recalled some of
the stone artifacts we found on floors of rooms and realized that they seemed to be
too soft to have been used as abraders or polishers. Many of the
stones had been ground or abraded on one or more sides, and concluded
they possibly were being crushed and/or ground for temper used in pottery
manufacture. Some of these soft stones had much Biotite (gold
mica) and others had much Muscovite (silver mica). Using sand temper would require less labor than having to crush or grind stone with gold or silver mica in it, however vessels with much gold or silver mica will sparkle beautifully outdoors in the sun. My conclusion is that potters occasionally added gold or silver mica to the temper for decorative purposes. Tanque
Verde ceramics tempered with Biotite have been described and named Pantano
Red-on-Brown (Hayden, Danson, Wallace, 1957;224-226), however, Pantano
Red-on-Brown hasn't seemed to gain any acceptance within the archaeological
Archaeologists in the past have shared some of these views. For example, George S. Cattanach Jr. wrote this when describing
Chapin Black-on-White in the Mesa Verde area:
"La Plata Black-on-White, Lino Black-on-Gray, and Chapin Black-on-White
are essentially one pottery type, with Chapin being the local manifestation.
Types of paint and temper definitely vary, at least in proportion, from
one type to another, but all are Basketmaker III pottery types which
undoubtedly extend into Pueblo I. There may be subtle temporal
and spatial differences between the types, but these should not be allowed
to obscure the broad relationship.". Later in the same paragraph he also states: "I feel that adding another name to the literature
confuses the picture and would much prefer to call this pottery La Plata
or Lino (redefined). If it is necessary to separate the local
development from that found elsewhere in the San Juan area, I would
prefer to call it La Plata Black-on-White: Chapin Variety.". He goes on to say: "A
similar situation exists with many other pottery types, both black-on-white
and plain or corrugated, where the broad relationships are being buried
under a mass of regional names. The local names are necessary
for analysis, but surely there must be a better way of handling the
taxonomy than by merely adding one name after another for every minor
although perhaps significant variation of a "basic" type found.
The type-variety concept offers a possible way out, but many archeologists
have objected to tying up the word "variety" in this manner,
and thus effectively deleting a rather useful word from the archeological
vocabulary. It would seem to be a step in the right direction,
however. It is certainly useful to be able to designate regional
varieties, such as Mesa Verde and Chaco, but of course the designation
does not have to be made part of the type name. In any case, the
type descriptions need to be expanded to include these regional variants."
(Cattanach Jr. 1980;210).
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