Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande ValleyNorthern Rio GrandeGreater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)Northern Rio Grande White WareSanta Fe Black-on-white

Type Name: Santa Fe Black-on-white

Period: 1150 A.D. - 1425 A.D.
Culture: Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande Valley
Branch: Northern Rio Grande
Tradition: Greater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)
Ware: Northern Rio Grande White Ware


First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2012

Santa Fe Black-on-white was defined by Mera (1935). This type refers to organic painted pottery common in Coalition period assemblages across scattered across much of the middle and northern Rio Grande regions. Santa Fe Black-on-white refers to the earliest organic painted type described for this sequence and is by far the dominant white ware type at components dating to the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries (Habicht Mauche 1993; Lang 1982; Mera 1935; Powell 2002; Stubbs and Stallings 1953; Wendorf 1953; Wilson 2008; G Wilson 2006). Painted decorations on Santa Fe Black-on-white reflect a shift to Pueblo III design styles decorated in organic paint during the second half of the twelfth century. Paint ranges from dark gray, black, bluish black, to orange in color.

Santa Fe Black-on-white is distinguished from later organic painted types by paste and slip characteristics as well as design styles. Clay paste tends to be hard, fine in texture, and, and fractures along an even plane. Paste color is usually light gray to blue gray. The great majority of pottery assigned to this type fire to similar pink to yellow-red color in an oxidation atmosphere indicating the consistent use of high iron clay (Wilson 2008). Tempering particles tend to consist of very fine and numerous inclusions and may include fine sand or finely-crushed volcanic rock temper, and in some cases shale fragments (Habicht-Mauche 1993; Wilson 2008). In some areas, there appears to have been a shift from the use of self-tempered clays to the addition of fine tuff or volcanic ash temper some time during the middle thirteenth century (Wilson 2013). Bowls are by far the dominant vessel form noted for Santa Fe Black-on-white. Other forms such as canteens, dippers, ollas, and even mugs have been noted but occur in extremely low frequencies. While some examples assigned to this type are slipped and others are not, these distributions do not appear to strongly conform to either temporal or spatial patterns. Decorated surfaces are usually polished and often slipped. Decorated surfaces tend to be moderately to well-polished. Surface color ranges from white, light gray, greenish, to tan. Undecorated exterior bowl surfaces are often not slipped or polished. Vessel walls of Santa Fe Black-on-white are relatively thin and straight, and are similar in shape and thickness to Kwahe'e Black-on-white. Wall thickness tends to be narrow particularly as compared to later Northern Rio Grande White Ware types. Rims tend to be tapered to slightly round. Out flared rims may occur but are very rare. The great majority or rim edges contain no painted decorations, and when present are usually limited to simple ticked dots.

In bowls, decorations are organized into a band on the interior surface, or in very rare cases in the upper portions of jar exteriors. These banded panels were often framed by a single line near the rim that may have occurred a single isolated slightly above the main banded panel but were often incorporated into this panel. These designs are occasionally framed by a series of similar-sized parallel lines or a combination of thick and thin lines. Painted decorations are almost always organized in a band that circles upper vessel. Commonly occurring design motifs include checkerboard, opposed solid and hatched triangles, opposing solid triangles, stepped lines, parallel lines, pendant and stepped triangles. Designs are often organized in a series of repeating segments that encircle the band. Much of the space within these panels may be intricately painted often creating designs within negative space (Habicht-Mauche 1993 Stubbs and Stalling 1953).

Few changes in designs seem to have occurred during the long period during which Santa Fe Black-on-white was produced (Wilson 2008) although later examples of this type may be more elaborately decorated and cover a greater space. Later forms also tend to occur over surfaces that are highly slipped and well-polished. The production of Santa Fe Black-on white is generally associated with the Coalition period (A.D. 1200 to 1350) and this certainly represents the span during which this type dominated white ware assemblages over wide areas of the Rio Grande region (Smiley et al 1953; Wendorf 1953; Wendorf and Reed 1954; Wilson 2013). The overall frequency of Santa Fe Black-on-white declined during the first part of the fourteenth century, after which it was replaced by later regional types including Wiyo, Pindi, Poge, and Galisteo Black-on-white as well as early glaze ware and biscuit ware types.

Sites with Santa Fe Black-on-white are extremely common as the distribution of Santa Fe Black-on-white is wider than that noted for other Northern Rio Grande white ware types. The similarities in pottery from various areas assigned to this type reflects the spread of carbon painted pottery reflecting identical technological and decorative conventions over an extremely wide areas of the Rio Grande region. The range of distribution for Santa Fe Black-on-white includes the eastern foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Springer and the Pecos River to the lower drainages of the Puerco Valley of the east near San Ysidro. It occurs as far south as Tijeras Canyon and north to the Chama River and the Taos Valley (Habicht-Mauche 1993).

References:
Habicht-Mauche, Judith A.
1993 The Pottery from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Tribalization and Trade in the Northern Rio Grande. Arroyo Hondo Archaeological Series Vol. 8. School of American Research Press, Santa Fe.

Lang, Richard W.
1982 Transformation in White Ware Pottery of the Rio Grande. In Southwestern Ceramics: A Comparative Review, edited by A. Schroeder, pp. 153–200. Arizona Archaeologist No. 15, Phoenix.

Mera, H. P.
1935 Ceramic Clues to the Prehistory of North Central New Mexico. Laboratory of Anthropology Technical Series Bulletin No. 8, Santa Fe.

Powell, Melissa S.
2002 Ceramics. In From Folsom to Fogelson; The Cultural Resources Inventory Survey of Pecos National Historic Park: Volume I. edited by G.N. Head and J.D. Orcutt, pp 237-304. Intermountain Cultural Resources Management Professional Paper No. 66, Santa Fe.

Smiley, Terah L., Stanley A. Stubbs, and Bryant Bannister
1953 A Foundation for the Dating of Some Late Archaeological Sites in the Rio Grande Area, New Mexico: Based on Studies in Tree-Ring Methods and Pottery Analysis. Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research Bulletin No. 6. University of Arizona, Tucson.

Stubbs, Stanley A., and W. S. Stallings, Jr.
1953 The Excavation of Pindi Pueblo, New Mexico. Monographs of the School of American Research and the Laboratory of Anthropology No. 18, Santa Fe.

Wendorf, Fred
1953 Salvage Archaeology in the Chama Valley, New Mexico. School of American Research Monograph No.17, Santa Fe.

1954 A Reconstruction of Northern Rio Grande Prehistory. American Anthropologist 56(2):200-227.

Wendorf, Fred, and Erick K. Reed
1955 An Alternative Reconstruction of Northern Rio Grande Prehistiory. El Palacio 62(5-6):131-173.

Wilson, C. Dean

2008 Ceramic Analysis for the Land Conveyance and Transfer Project, Los Alamos National Laboratory. In The Land Conveyance and Transfer Data Recovery Project: 7,000 Years of Land Use on the Pajarito Plateau, Vol. 3: Artifact and Sample Analysis, edited by Bradley J. Vierra and Kari M. Schmidt, pp. 125–256. Cultural Resource Report No. 273. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos.

2013 The Gradual Development of Systems of Pottery Production and Distribution Across Northern Rio Grande Landscapes. In From Mountaintop to Valley Bottom; Understanding Past Land Use in the Northern Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico, edited by Bradley J. Vierra, pp 161-197. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

Wilson, Gordon P,
2006 Guide to Ceramic Identification: Northern Rio Grande and Galisteo Basin to A.D. 1700. 2nd ed. Technical Series Bulletin 12. Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe.




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Santa Fe Black-on-white bowl sherd

Santa Fe Black-on-white bowl sherds

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