Apachean (Southern Athapaskan)Southwest ApacheanJicarilla ApacheSangre de Cristo Micaceous WareOcate Micaceus

Type Name: Ocate Micaceus

Period: 1640 A.D. - 1750 A.D.
Culture: Apachean (Southern Athapaskan)
Branch: Southwest Apachean
Tradition: Jicarilla Apache
Ware: Sangre de Cristo Micaceous Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2014

Ocate Micaceous was defined by Gunnerson (1968) to describe the earliest pottery forms thought to have been produced by Jicarilla Apache groups. This type appears to occur at sites across much of northeastern New Mexico including areas along the plains drained by the upper drainages of Canadian River, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, as well drainages of the Northern Rio Grande and Pecos Rivers (Brugge 1982). The common occurrence of Ocate Micaceous from Colonial period contexts in the areas around Taos and Pecos Pueblos may reflect increasingly strong alliances and economic ties between mobile Jicarilla Apache and Pueblo and Spanish settlements (Moore 2003; Woosley and Olinger 1990).

Gunnerson (1968) originally postulated that Ocate Micaceous was constructed using the paddle-and-anvil technique and assumed that pottery assigned to this type was adopted from earlier Apache forms produced in the southern plains. These assumptions resulted in assigning a beginning date of about A.D. 1550 for Ocate Micaceous. More recent assessments seem to indicate a coil and scrape construction similar to that utilized by Pueblo groups, and the pottery has been attributed to adoption of Pueblo pottery technologies as alliances and contact between Apache, Spanish, and Jicarilla Apaches (Baugh and Eddy 1987; Brugge 1982). It appears more likely that the Jicarilla Apache adopted pottery from Taos potters after which the technology was modified to incorporate the highly micaceous clays from sources in mountainous locations visited by mobile Apachean groups which may have subsequently influenced pottery made at Taos Pueblo (Woosley and Olinger 1990). The production of this type as normally defined appears to have ended at about 1750, a time during which the Jicarilla and other Apache groups were pushed out of formally occupied areas along various drainages by the Comanche.

Ocate Micaceous is characterized by jars with flared rim and striations running vertically or diagonally across the exterior surface (Gunnerson 1969; Moore 2003; Woosley and Oppelt 1990). Surfaces are plain and unpolished although rows of small incised punctate decorations may very occasionally occur just below the rim. Forms are most commonly represented by wide mouth jars and ollas with gently everted rims and sloping shoulders. Vessel walls are very thin, and rims are tapered. Bases are conical in profile but are flat bottomed. Rims are usually tapered or rounded but occasionally are square and sometimes rolled. Pastes are often laminated and layered. Paste and surface color is highly variable ranging from dark gray, gray, buff, tan to orange and seems to reflect a firings in variable atmospheres. Pastes are relatively coarse and may contain angular quartz or mica schist, and relatively large mica fragments. The presence of aplastic particles along with finishes associated with thin walls may result in a pebbly appearance. Temper may protrude from the surface, but are covered with a micaceous slip. The numerous fine mica particles result in sparkly appearance.

Baugh, Timothy G., and Frank W. Eddy
1987 Rethinking Apachean Ceramics: the 1985 Southern Athaspascan Ceramic Conference. American Antiquity 52:793-798.

Brugge, David M.
1982 Apache and Navajo Ceramics. In Southwestern Ceramics , edited by A. H. Schroeder, pp. 279-298. Arizona Archeologist, Arizona Archaeological Society, Schroeder.

Gunnerson, James H.
1969 Apache Archaeology in Northeastern New Mexico. American Antiquity 34:23-39.

Moore, James L.
2003 Occupation of the Glorieta Valley in the Seventeenth and Nineteenth Centuries; Excavations at LA 76138, LA 76140, and 99028. Museum of New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studes, Archaeology Notes 262, Santa Fe.

Woosley, Anne I., and Bart Olinger
1990 Ethnicity and Production of Micaceous Ware in the Taos Valley. In Clues to the Past: Papers in Honor of William M. Sundt, edited by M. S. Duran and D. T, Kirkpatrick. Papers of the Archeological Society of New Mexico, No. 16, Albuquerque.

Related Photos

Ocate Micaceous jar sherds