to be much confusion among archaeologists as to what to name ceramics
produced during the transition period of Late Rincon and Early Tanque
Verde Phases from in and around the Tucson basin. Transitional pottery
is described as having various diagnostic traits from two time periods
or phases. These types are made when one time period or phase “transfers”
Greenleaf describes these ceramics as early Tanque Verde, and yet describes
others as Topawa (Tucson variety), and yet others as Late Rincon (Greenleaf 1975:52,54,60).
Deaver describes these ceramics as Rincon Style C (Deaver 1984:262).
Gregonis is calling to name these ceramics Cortaro (Gregonis 1997:26).
Wallace has divided the Sedentary Period into five different sub-phases,
these are: Early Rincon, Middle Rincon 1, Middle Rincon 2, Middle Rincon
3, and Late Rincon, and has consequently divided Rincon Red-on-Brown
pottery thus far into nine different sub-types. These are: Rillito/Early
Rincon, Early Rincon, Early Rincon/Middle Rincon 1, Middle Rincon 1,
Middle Rincon 2, Middle Rincon 3, Middle Rincon 3/Late Rincon, Late
Rincon, and Late Rincon/Early Tanque Verde (Wallace 1995:301). No attempt
will be made here at this time to try and describe these divisions,
or to explain how these sub-types are recognizably different from one
another. Wallace also writes of possibly splitting his Late Rincon sub-phase
and possibly designating a Cortaro Phase (Wallace 1995:802).
Beckwith wrote: “Although Tanque Verde bowls are typically decorated
on the exterior, many interior-decorated Tanque Verde bowls have been
noted at sites throughout the Tucson Basin. The occurrence of interior-decorated
Tanque Verde bowls is problematic because (1) they are relatively rare,
(2) there is a problem sorting them from late Rincon Red-on-Brown, and
(3) they are not easily identifiable in sherd form.” Later in
the same paragraph, Beckwith also wrote: “Interior decorated vessels
and sherds, though stylistically Tanque Verde in design, were identified
as Rincon unless it was determined that the vessel form was the large,
sub hemispherical bowl” (Ravesloot 1987:208). This would be the
equivalent of identifying Rincon exterior painted cauldrons as Tanque
Verde because of the exterior decoration.
Deaver writes of a partial Tanque Verde bowl that had an exterior decoration
that, “resembles Rincon Style C, and if it were on the interior
of a bowl, the vessel could have been assigned to that type.”
(Deaver 1984; 331).
Kelly wrote; “Harold Gladwin envisaged a phase designated as Cortaro
which would bridge the gap between the more or less curvilinear style
of Rincon and the essentially angular treatment of Tanque Verde exterior
ornamentation. Hypothetically, this would be an interior decorated bowl,
its design verging on the Tanque Verde angular.” (Kelly 1978;47).
A few key points to explain is that these “hypothetical”,
“Cortaro”, “interior decorated bowls”, should
have a design “verging” on the “Tanque Verde angular”.
This means that most of these bowls should have “curves”
and “angles” in the same design. A lot of bowls that I see
described as this type, including the “Cortaro Red-on-Brown”
bowl described by Kelly:1978, (Fig 4.26), is all “angles”
and no “curves”; and we now know that Tanque Verde potters
commonly made interior decorated shallow bowls. Later, in the same paragraph,
Kelly also wrote; “However at the University Ruin, near Tucson,
Emil Haury found a considerable quantity of material that answers these
theoretical demands. There, however, the Cortaro type occurs later than
our Tanque Verde, in association with Polychrome; hence, it must be
regarded as derivative of Tanque Verde rather than antecedent.”
This author is not trying to confuse the reader, rather merely pointing
out the confusion.
It seems that many Early Tanque Verde vessels are being typed by many archaeologists as being Late Rincon, Rincon Style C, Topawa (Tucson variety),
or Cortaro. These are usually shallow interior decorated Tanque Verde
Bowls. I have found that a significant number of shallow Tanque Verde
bowls of all sizes, have full primary designs decorated on their interiors,
and many have been found in direct association with Sells Redware, and
other Classic Period artifacts, as well as the more common deep Tanque
Verde bowls with exterior primary decorations.
Although I agree that there is a Late Rincon type, I do not completely
agree with several archaeologists descriptions of the type.
Occasionally bowls are found with full exterior and interior designs
on the same vessel. While many of these bowls are Late Rincon
or “transitional”, the ones that have only Tanque
Verde designs should be considered only Tanque Verde, especially when
they are found in direct association with “normal” classic
period ceramics. Many Tanque Verde bowls with primary exterior designs
also have rather large interior designs (pendant to the rim) that are not full or primary.
Sherds of these bowls are probably mistaken as belonging to bowls believed
to have full interior and exterior designs.
Tanque Verde vessels have been described as having “a balance
of open space and painted designs” (Heckman 2000:89). While many
Tanque Verde vessels have designs that have a balance of open space
and design, many have almost no open space. These “busier”
designs may be Early Tanque Verde, and on many occasions these ceramics
are found in direct association with ceramics that have “open
space” designs. Hence, the “busier” designs may be
Early Tanque Verde, while the “open space” designs may expand
the full range of Early to Late Tanque Verde. This is similar to how
Deaver describes Rincon ceramics as styles A, B, and C (Deaver 1984:259-265)
Further archaeological work will have to be done to test this Early
and Late Tanque Verde theory. Motifs found on Early Tanque Verde vessels
undoubtfully were carried over from Rincon times, such as wavy lines,
curvilinear and rectilinear scrolls, fringe, life forms and others.
Possible “early” Tanque Verde motifs may include vertical
and diagonal hatching, and perhaps most small elements. Especially “filler”
elements that fill the space that is normally left blank in many Tanque
Deaver states that “The major changes seen in Tanque Verde Red-on-Brown
are in fact established in the Sedentary Period” (Deaver 1984;244).
Gregonis points out that a handled plain ware pitcher was found in definite “Cortaro Phase” association (Gregonis 1997;68). Handled
pitchers are a diagnostic trait of the classic period as well as Classic
shouldered jars, highly polished molded pottery spindle whorls, “lipped”
vessels, Sells redware, and possibly all bowls with intentional indented
Just because transitional types of ceramics are found, I don’t know if it is necessary to designate a phase as a way to explain them. Transitional ceramics are found in most, if not all, phase endings/beginnings.
Based on my ceramic studies and much of the information available, I
agree with Wallace that his Late Rincon sub-phase should be divided (about right in the middle),
and that the Tanque Verde Classic Period should be pushed back to an
earlier beginning date. Wallace states “As the most important
cultural changes seem to have occurred within the Late Rincon subphase,
when the subphase can be divided, the division should mark the beginning
of the Classic Period.” (Wallace 1995; 802). This would in fact
push back the classic period to an earlier beginning date. Wallace’s
Chronology chart shows the Classic Period beginning possibly as early as 1100
Slawson wrote an article titled, “The Classic Period Continental
Site, AZ EE:1:32” (Doelle and Fish, 1988;135-144). Slawson writes
about radiocarbon dates from features containing Tanque Verde ceramics
at this site, and at least two other sites that point to an earlier
Classic Period beginning, stating that, “….the time of transition
from the preceding Sedentary Period had to have occurred earlier, perhaps
around A.D. 1100.” (Doelle and Fish, 1988;142).
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 it is possible to find “transitional”
types in direct association with newer or older types. This could certainly lead to a lot of disagreement. I believe
this is why Haury’s “Cortaro Type” dated temporally
later than Kelly’s Tanque Verde (Kelly, 1978;48). These transitional types
are important diagnostically and temporally. I strongly feel that these transitional ceramics overlap Early
Tanque Verde Ceramics, and also that many Tanque Verde forms, designs,
and motifs date solely to the Tanque Verde subphase of the Classic Period.
Based on all of the above information, it seems logical to believe that
the Classic Period began around 1125 A.D. and is the beginning date
for Classic Period ceramics in this guide for now. These dates (as well
as any information in this guide) may change in the future when, or
if enough convincing information comes to surface.
For now, the transitional ceramics will be described as late Rincon or Early Tanque Verde depending on their design and/or form.
Perhaps in the future Archaeologists will prove and demonstrate a "Cortaro" Phase. These transitional ceramics would likely be named "Cortaro", and date from about A.D. 1100 - 1150. Hopefully the description for these vessels will satisfactorily omit Early Tanque Verde vessels, as well as Late Rincon vessels, from being confused with each other.
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