Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande ValleyNorthern Rio GrandeGreater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)Northern Rio Grande Micaceous Utility WareTewa Polished Micaceous

Type Name: Tewa Polished Micaceous

Period: 1550 A.D. - 1920 A.D.
Culture: Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande Valley
Branch: Northern Rio Grande
Tradition: Greater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)
Ware: Northern Rio Grande Micaceous Utility Ware


First posted by Dean Wilson 2012

A common class of utility ware from Pueblo and Hispanic sites in Northern New Mexico dating to the Colonial to the early Territorial periods consists of forms with plain exterior surfaces covered by a thin layer of mica slip and interior surfaces that are polished and sometimes smudged. This type appears to have developed out of late forms of Sapawe Micaceous, exhibiting polished and smudged exteriors (Snow 1982). Pottery exhibiting similar characteristics has sometimes been assigned to one of two types based on the presence of sooted or smudged interior surfaces (Wilson 2011). Pottery assigned to this type appears to be very similar to that previously described as Apodaca Gray, El Rito Micaceous Slipped, and Tewa Micaceous Slipped (Eiselt 2006). This type is characterized a culinary ware made from a non-micaceous slip with a distinct mica slip over a plain rough surface (Dick 1968; Levine 2001). Pottery exhibiting such characteristics appears to have been produced at Picuris, Nambe and San Ildefonso Pueblos from A.D. 1600 to the early twentieth century (Adler and Dick1 1999; Eiselt 2006; Guthe 1925). Pottery assigned to this group is also similar to El Rito Micaceous defined for the El Rito-Abiquiu and Picuris-Taos area at contexts dating to the 19th century thought to have been produced by Hispanic potters (Dick 1968). It is possible that El Rito Micaceous could be distinguished by the occurrence of abundant arkosic sand with some mica although the distinction of this type from Tewa Polished Micaceous as defined is highly problematic.

Pastes of pottery paced into this type is usually dark throughout sometimes with a reddish streak, and tend to fire to yellow-red colors in oxidizing atmospheres. Vessels seem to have been fairly well fired as hardness and friability is comparable to that noted in earlier prehistoric gray ware pottery. Temper tends to be large and include granite, sand, and vitric tuff particles. Exterior surfaces are plain and unpolished, and are usually covered with a distinct mica slip with large visible flecks. Surfaces easily erode, often obscuring evidence of mica slip. Slipped surfaces are very rough, and completely smoothed with no evidence of polishing. Small pitted surfaces and striations are often present. Unslipped portions of surfaces are usually dark gray, but are also occasionally light gray brown or yellow red. Mica particles range from a gold to silver color. The degreed application of mica was quite variable, and very obvious in some cases and almost not notable in others. Interior surfaces were usually slightly or moderately polished. Micaceous flecks may sometimes show through most polished interior surfaces as inclusions in the paste. Surfaces tend to be slightly more polished in smudged examples, although extremely polished examples similar to noticed in Tewa Polished Black forms were not noted. Smudged and polished surfaces were never slipped. There appears to be very little relationship between interior and exterior surface color and treatment. The variability noted in color and paste may either indicate that significant amounts of pottery may have originated from a number of different Tewa Pueblos (), or that technologies for micaceous vessels produced at different Pueblos in the Tewa Basin were variable. If micaceous pottery produced from Nambe, Pojoaque, and Tesuque Pueblos were consistently oxidized, than the many reduced examples might indicate that a number of vessels were produced at Santa Clara, San Juan, and San Ildefonso. Rim forms are dominated by jars although everted bowls are relatively common. Sherds derived from rims indicative of both bowls and jars exhibited similar combinations interior and exterior treatments, and it was not possible to identify vessel form for body sherds. Jars exhibit a slight flare near the rim, and overall shape varies from typical jars to those that are fairly flat or short. Jars are variable in size although small forms are relatively common. Rims are usually rounded, but are sometimes slightly tapered. Bowls tend to be flared near the rim and are often similar to and represent a shorter version of jars.

References:
Adler, Michael A. and Herbert W. Dick
1999 Picuris Pueblo Through Time: Eight Centuries of Change at a Northern Rio Grande Pueblo. William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University.

Dick, Herbert W.
1968 Six Historic Pottery Types from Spanish Sites in New Mexico. In Collected Papers in Honor of Lyndon L. Hargrave, edited by A.H. Schroeder, pp. 77-94. Papers of the Archaeological Society of New Mexico No.1. Museum of New Mexico Press.

Eiselt, Bernice Sunday
2006 Appendix E; A Brief Guide to Identification of Historic Micaceous of the Northern Rio Grande: Including Types Attributed to Hispanic, Northern Tewa, and Jicarilla Apache Potters. In the Emergence of Jicarilla Apache Enclave Economy During the 19th Century in Northern New Mexico, pp. 519-552, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Guthe, Carl E
1925 Pueblo Pottery Making, Yale University Press, New Haven.

Levine, Daisy
2001 Analysis and Interpretation of Ceramics from the Pedro Sanchez Site, In Prehistoric and HistoricOccupation at Los Alamos and Guaje Canyons: Data Recovery at Three; Sites near the Pueblo of San Ildenfonsio, by James L. Moore, pp 129-138. Office of Archaeological Studies Archaeology Notes 244, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe.

Snow, David
1982 The Rio Grande Glaze, Matte-Paint, and Plainware Tradition. Southwestern Ceramics: A Comparative Review. edited by Albert Schroeder, The Arizona Archaeologist no. 15, edited A.H. Schroeder, pp 235-278. Arizona Archaeological Society, Phoenix.

Wilson C. Dean
2011 Historic Indigenous Ceramic Types. In Settlers and Soldiers: The Historic Component at El Pueblo de Santa Fe (LA 1051), by S. C. Lentz and M. J. Barbour, pp 223 -234. Archaeology Notes, 410. Office of Archaeological Studies, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe.




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