Ancestral Pueblo: Greater MogollonMogollon Highlands

Branch Name: Mogollon Highlands

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2013

Mogollon Highlands refer here to mountainous areas of covering much of southwestern and west and central New Mexico and east central Arizona. The initial distinction of the Mogollon as a distinct culture area was initially based on sites in the Mogollon Highlands which were largely distinguished from archaeological manifestations in the Colorado Plateau based on the long duration of polished brown utility ware and pithouses as the predominant domestic architecture (Martin 1979). Sites in the Mogollon Highlands, commonly placed into the Mogollon, exhibited distinct material culture that were initially interpreted as reflecting a distinct Southwestern peoples or culture. Similarities in Anasazi and Mogollon material cultural noted particular for later phases of the Mogollon were interpreted as reflecting variation resulting from the mingling of Anasazi and Mogollon groups. Differences used to define the Northern Mogollon were later sometimes interpreted in ecological terms as a long-lived adaption to mountainous areas of the Mogollon Highlands (Colton 1953; Martin and Plog 1973). The long term production and dominance of brown ware pottery has also been partly attributed to the development of ceramic technologies best suited for the very homogenous, high iron, highly plastic, and self-tempered clays weathered from volcanic clays scattered across the Mogollon Highlands (Wilson 1999).

Brown ware pottery produced in the Mogollon Highlands appear to have almost always been dominated by plain polished forms although there is also a trend toward the production of increasingly of neckbanded and then corrugated utility ware forms through time. The use of similar brown ware clays that are covered with a white polished slip decorated with designs in mineral paint defines Mimbres white wares. The similarities in stylistic and technological developments over extremely wide areas of the Mogollon Highlands also seem to be indicative of a relationship between groups in mountainous areas such as the Mogollon Highlands in New Mexico and the Mogollon Rim in Arizona. While areas of the Mogollon have been grouped into a Cibola and Mimbres branch that can part be defined based on differences in Mimbres versus Cibola white wares at late sites in the two regions, the Cibola white wares are assumed to represent trade wares produced by Anasazi groups residing in the Southern Colorado Plateau. For now, Mogollon pottery defined for this website are grouped into a single Mogollon-Mimbres tradition.

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