Ceramic Design and Changing Scales of Social Interaction Across the Cibola Region

Garrett Trask & Matthew Peeples

Poster presented at the 76th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Sacramento, California
March 31st, 2011



The Pueblo III to Pueblo IV transition (ca. A.D. 1275) across the Cibola region was marked by regional scale population movements which resulted in the establishment of large villages in some portions of the region and the abandonment of other areas. This transition was also associated with major changes in ceramic design. The wide-spread White Mountain Redware tradition of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico diverged into two wares (or series) characterized by different design styles and color combinations; late White Mountain Redware (Pinedale Polychrome) and Zuni Glazeware (Heshotauthla and Kwakina Polychrome [Carlson 1970; Mills 2007a]). All of these types were primarily bowls, often with bold designs painted on their exteriors, which were likely used to serve food during public feasting events or other gatherings (Mills 2007b). Certain exterior designs also appear on multiple vessels suggesting that they may have been used to mark social identities (LeBlanc and Henderson 2009:21-23). The purpose of this study is to explore patterns of shared exterior designs on late 13th and early 14th century (A.D. 1275-1325) White Mountain Redware and Zuni Glazeware bowls in order to better understand how these exterior designs may have been used to signal membership in social groups at various scales.




Figure 1. Map of the Cibola region showing areas dominated by White Mountain Redware and Zuni Glazeware (click for full size)
  • We digitally photographed or obtained existing photographs for a sample of whole or partial bowls of late 13th-early 14th century (A.D. 1275-1325) Zuni Glazeware and White Mountain Redware in public collections

• Following the heuristics outlined by LeBlanc and Henderson (2009) for their study of Hopi Yellow Ware, we attempted to group vessels into “design sets” based on similarities in exterior design configurations

• Provenience information was removed from each photograph and vessels were sorted into groups based on overall exterior design
• Analysis was conducted independently by two individuals and groups were refined by comparing the sets created by each analyst
• Somewhat larger “design families” were defined for groups of vessels with similar design configurations, but which differed in details

• We quantified the number of vessels within each design set/family by ware in order to explore potential differences in the scale at which common designs were shared

Figure 2. Examples of Zuni Glazeware (Heshotauthla Polychrome; left) and White Mountain Redware bowls (Pinedale Polychrome; right). Images courtesy of the Brigham Young University Museum of Peoples and Cultures.(click for full size)

Zuni Glazeware

Figure 3. Example of design family within Zuni Glazeware (left) and examples of other designs found on Zuni Glazeware vessels (right).

White Mountain Redware

Figure 4. Example of design family within White Mountain Redware (left) and examples of other designs found on White Mountain Redware vessels (right).

Key Results

• We did not define "tight sets" of exterior designs like those which LeBlanc and Henderson (2009) attribute to specific artist groups

• Many vessels were grouped into “design families” which exhibit general similarities in the form of exterior designs, but which vary substantially in detail and execution

• The degree of variation in design families suggest that they do not represent vessels produced by groups of artists working closely together
• Similarities in vessels within design families suggest that individual artists were signaling membership in social groups that were somewhat larger than artist groups
• Similarities within design families may be due, in part, to similarities in subject matter

• Zuni Glazeware (Heshotauthla and Kwakina Polychrome)

• Exterior designs are typically geometric and continuous around the bowl
• The four most common design families account for >50% of all vessels in sample

• White Mountain Redware (Pinedale Polychrome)

• The vast majority of designs were unique and could not be placed into any design family
• The four most common design families account for ~11% of all vessels in our sample

Figure 5. Four most common design families by ware. (click for full size)




The initial analysis of bowl exterior designs presented here suggests that the scale at which specific design configurations were shared differed dramatically between Zuni Glazeware and White Mountain Redware. Designs on Zuni Glazeware vessels were extremely repetitive and most vessels could be placed into a small number of major design families. Designs on White Mountain Redware vessels were more frequently unique and, although some vessels could be grouped into design families, these groups were smaller. These broad differences suggest that the scales at which potters expressed social identities using designs on bowls may have differed across the greater Cibola region. Interestingly, the areas dominated by Zuni Glazeware and White Mountain Redware also differed dramatically in terms of local settlement histories.
The Pueblo III to Pueblo IV transition in areas where White Mountain Redware was most common was marked by the consolidation of large villages (ca. 50-500 rooms) that were constructed in small segments over the course of several years (Kaldahl et al. 2004; Mills 1998). The same transition in areas dominated by Zuni Glazeware was rapid and was characterized by the construction of massive nucleated towns (ca. 500-1,400 rooms), many of which were planned and built in single events (Huntley and Kintigh 2004; Kintigh et al. 2004). The high degree of similarity in designs on the exteriors of Zuni Glazeware bowls produced by the inhabitants of these planned, nucleated towns may reflect active efforts towards social conformity. Conformity in designs found on bowls used in public events may have promoted cooperation among previously distinct social groups (e.g., Kohler et al. 2004). The diversity of designs on White Mountain Redware may, instead, reflect the diverse origins of the small groups that gradually consolidated to form the large villages in the western portion of the region.



References Cited

Carlson, Roy L.
1970 White Mountain Redware: A Pottery Tradition of East-Central Arizona and West-Central New Mexico. Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona No. 19, Tucson, AZ.

Huntley, Deborah L. and Keith W. Kintigh
2004 Archaeological Patterning and the Organizational Scale of Late Prehistoric Settlement Clusters in the Zuni Region of New Mexico. In The Protohistoric Pueblo World: A.D. 1275-1600, edited by E. Charles Adams and Andrew I. Duff, pp. 62-74. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Kaldahl, Eric J., Scott Van Keuren and Barbara J. Mills
2004 Migration, Factionalism, and the Trajectories of Pueblo IV Period Clusters in the Mogollon Rim Region. In The Protohistoric Pueblo World, A.D. 1275-1600, edited by E. Charles Adams and Andrew I. Duff, pp. 85-94. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Kintigh, Keith W., Donna M. Glowacki and Deborah L. Huntley
2004 Long-term Settlement History and the Emergence of Towns in the Zuni Area. American Antiquity 69(3):432-456.

Kohler, Timothy A., Stephanie Van Buskirk and Samantha Ruscavage-Barz
2004 Vessels and villages: evidence for conformist transmission in early village aggregations on the Pajarito Plateau, New Mexico. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 23:100-118.

LeBlanc, Steven A. and Lucia R. Henderson
2009 Symbols in Clay: Seeking Artists' Identities in Hopi Yellow Ware Bowls. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Cambridge, MA.

Mills, Barbara J.
1998 Migration and Pueblo IV Community Reorganization in the Silver Creek Area, East-Central Arizona. In Migration and Reorganization: The Pueblo IV Period in the American Southwest, edited by Katherine A. Spielman, pp. 65-80. Arizona State University Anthropological Research Papers 51, Tempe, AZ.

2007a A Regional Perspective on Ceramics and Zuni Identity, A.D. 200-1630. In Zuni Origins: Toward a New Synthesis of Southwestern Archaeology, edited by David A. Gregory and David R. Wilcox, pp. 210-238. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

2007b Performing the Feast: Visual Display and Suprahousehold Commensalism in the Puebloan Southwest. American Antiquity 72(2):210-240.




This project was supported in part by the NSF DDIG program (#09043134; PI: Kintigh, Co-PI: Peeples) and a Wenner-Gren Foundation dissertation fieldwork grant (#09094295; PI: Peeples). We would like to thank the generous researchers who shared vessel photographs with us including Scott Van Keuren, Kelley Hays-Gilpin, Keith Kintigh, Steven LeBlanc, the Harvard Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, the Chicago Field Museum, and the Brigham Young University Museum of Peoples and Cultures. The vessel photographs displayed on this poster were obtained from the BYU Museum of Peoples and Cultures.