Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)Eastern (Mountain) Anasazi

Branch Name: Eastern (Mountain) Anasazi

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2012

The classification of pottery associated with distinct archaeological manifestations associated with the highland areas along the continental divide in Northern New Mexico and border better known and defined regions of the Colorado Plateau and Rio Grande Rift, have long presented a dilemma for archaeologists working in this area. The decision made here involves the placement of ceramic traditions commonly placed into different branches or provinces of the Anasazi or Rio Grande into a group defined here as the Eastern or Mountain Anasazi. The classification strategy used here is borrowed from Dittert and Plog (1980) who group the series of distinct organic painted white ware types earlier defined for the Upper San Juan, Jemez, and Gallina regions to Upper San Juan White Ware types.

The descriptions presented for the ceramic traditions defined for this branch also include gray utility wares associated with these white wares. Other synthesis of ceramics and material culture also seems to indicate that archaeological manifestations noted in these three regions were related (Wiseman 2007). This branch as defined here seems to reflect a sequence of development associated with Towa speaking populations who today reside at Jemez Pueblo. Traditions included here within this branch include the Upper San Juan tradition associated with the drainages, valleys, and plateaus of Eastern San Juan Mountains, while the Gallina tradition is associated with those of the Gallina Mountains including the Upper Puerco Valley of the east, and the Jemez tradition is associated with the Plateaus of the Jemez Mountains and the Upper Jemez Valley. The distinct and peripheral nature of archaeological manifestations defined for these different regions together seem to reflect a long history of adaptions to high-elevation horticulture (Bremer and Burns 1973).

Further, evidence of such links between these regions seems to be reflected by similarities of pottery produced in regions occupied during different periods. Thus, a long-lived sequence of occupation and ceramic development appears to be represented by a continuum of changing white ware forms from Rosa Black-on-white to Gallina Black-on-white to Jemez Black-on-white. We realize the grouping proposed here is at odds with other regional classification schemes that tend to group the Upper San Juan with developments in the Northern San Juan regions to the east, while the Gallina and Jemez regions have been commonly placed within the boundaries defined for the Northern Rio Grande (Cordell 1979; Lang 1982). We realize that many issues relating to the classification and relationship to these regions are still unresolved, and we welcome comments and proposals on the best way to organize developments and relationships for ceramics associated with these still poorly understood regions.

Related Traditions