Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande ValleyNorthern Rio GrandeGreater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)Northern Rio Grande White WareAbiquiu (Biscuit A) Black-on-white

Type Name: Abiquiu (Biscuit A) Black-on-white

Period: 1350 A.D. - 1450 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

Investigations by Kidder (1915) at the early Classic component in the village of Aqua Fria indicated the presence of white wares exhibiting characteristics that closely resembled forms described from large Classic period villages on the Pajarito Plateau that had been earlier excavated by Hewitt, but exhibited polished, painted, and slipped decorations on the interior surface only. Investigations at Pecos Pueblo by Kidder further indicated that biscuit ware forms exhibiting decorations on the interior surface predated those decorated on both sides and formed for the recognition of Biscuit A or Abiquiu Black-on-gray (Kidder and Amsden 1931). Given similarities to earlier white wares, I use the term Abiquiu Black-on-white to describe early biscuit wares (Wilson 2008; 2011).

This type is characterized by similar pastes used to define Bandelier Black-on-white but with exteriors that are usually not polished, slipped, or painted. The earliest biscuit ware forms exhibit characteristics that are similar to those noted for Wiyo Black-on-white, but with softer pastes (Habicht-Mauche 1993). By definition Biscuit A is not represented by jars. Biscuit ware jar sherd, however, tend to be very rare in stratigraphic deposits from contexts at Pecos Pueblo yielding Biscuit A (Kidder and Amsden 1931). The undecorated exterior surfaces of bowls are unpolished but smooth, often with horizontal striations resulting from smoothing. Slipped interior surfaces tend to be light dull, seldom crackled, with a fairly high polish. Bowls tend to be large with whole examples measured from Pecos divided into two size groups (Kidder and Amsden 1931). Rims on small bowls tend to be even with a flat edge. Profiles of Biscuit A bowls can be divided into several groups. One consists of bowl walls with even contours similar to shape described for early (Glaze A) glaze wares. Some examples with similar shapes exhibit a slight widening near the rim. Others exhibit slight flares near the rim that appear in low frequencies of very late examples of Santa Fe Black-on-white. Other forms exhibit slight flaring or eversion near the rim, and may result in the deepening of the bowl. One shape includes those exhibiting flaring rims. Another shape consists of a semi-standing rim, with a more upward curve.

Overall execution of decoration has sometimes been characterized as reflecting a decline in workmanship from earlier white ware types, although decoration on Abiquiu Black-on-white is very standardized in terms of the width of decorative bands, methods used for framing and subdividing the bands, and techniques for filling in the panels (Kidder and Amsden 1931). Still, Biscuit A bowls can be described as graceful and nearly perfectly rounded with consistently finished rims (Kidder and Amsden 1931). The flat square edges above a sloping rim or the inner-face of everted rims are usually covered with evenly spaced ticked decorations. These decorations may include a succession of single heavy dashes, rectangular or triangle marks, doubly bent lines, and zigzag lines, hatched designs, checkered dots, as well as other combinations of lines and dots. Painted decorations cover the majority of the bowl interior, except for a small open portion near the bottom. The banded decorations of both interior and exteriors cover all but the bottom portion of most vessels. The upper and lower part of the banded designs are usually framed by a thick line on the margins with one, two, and three thin lines between the thick line and banded designs. These areas are usually divided into three or four contrasting wedged shaped panels that are made up of a series of triangular, checkerboard, linear dots, hachure, and chevron lines often separated by a series of linear lines. Decorations cover much of the vessel and dramatic effects are often created by negative geometric spaces including the circle in the middle of the vessel. Some of the effects created by this combination of motifs are purely geometric while others combine to form stylized forms including butterflies, birds, feathered and awanyu motifs.

Pottery with traits indicative of this type may have been produced as early as A.D. 1350 although it is not common in assemblages until after A.D. 1375 to about A.D. 1450 (Vint 1999). Distribution of Abiquiu Black-on-white is similar to that noted for northern varieties of Wiyo Black-on-white. Mera (1934) described the distribution of the area most dominated by biscuit ware forms as the junction of Rio Grande and the Rio Chama Valley and can be most simply stated as reflecting occupations in Chama Valley, Tewa Basin, and Pajarito Plateau (Curewitz 2008). Assemblages with fairly high frequencies of Abiquiu Black-on-white also occur in fairly high frequencies in assemblages in the Pecos Valley and Santa Fe Valley although biscuit wares do not appear to have been locally produced in these areas.

Curewitz, Diane C.
2008 Changes in Northern Rio Grande Production and Exchange, Late Coalition Through Classic (A.. 1250-1600), Ph.D. Dissertation, Deparment of Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman.

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, Volume 8. School of American Research Press, Santa Fe.

Kidder, Alfred V.
1915 Pottery of the Pajarito Plateau and Some Adjacent Regions in New Mexico. Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association, Vol. 2, Part 6, New Haven.

Kidder, Alfred V., and Charles A. Amsden
1931 The Pottery of Pecos, Volume I, The Dull-Paint Wares. Papers of the Southwestern Expedition, No. 5, Yale University Press, New Haven.

Mera, H. P.
1934 A Survey of the Biscuit Ware Area in Northern New Mexico. Laboratory of Anthropology Technical Series Bulletin No.8, Santa Fe.

Vint, James M.
1999 Ceramic Artifacts. In The Bandelier Archaeological Survey, Vol. I, edited by R. P. Powers and J. D. Orcutt, pp. 389-467. Intermountain Cultural Resource Management Professional Papers No. 57. Santa Fe.

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 B. J. Vierra and K. M. Schmidt, pp. 125–256. Cultural Resource Report No. 273. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico.

2011 Analysis of Pottery Recovered from Prehistoric Contexts. In Ogapogeh, the White Shell Water Place: The Prehistoric Component at El Pueblo de Santa Fe (LA 1051), by S. L. Lentz, pp. 187–224. Archaeology Notes, 438. Office of Archaeological Studies, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe.

Related Photos

Abiquiu Black-on-white bowl sherd

Abiquiu Black-on-white bowl sherds (interior surface)

Abiquiu Black-on-white bowl sherds (exterior surface)

Abiquiu (Biscuit A) Black-on-white bowl sherds

Abiquiu (Biscuit A) Black-on-white bowl

Abiquiu (Biscuit A) Black-on-white bowl

Abiquiu (Biscuit A) Black-on-white bowl