Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)

Culture Name: Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2013

Pottery assigned to the Southern Colorado Plateau or Anasazi culture as defined here includes many of the regional traditions long noted for groups described as the Anasazi and more recently as Ancestral Pueblo. The term Southern Colorado Plateau is used here to differentiate these groups from those known to occupy areas in the Northern Colorado Plateau such as that associated with the Fremont culture which covers much of Utah. The Southern Colorado Plateau culture area includes pottery associated with a variety of gray, white, and red ware pottery types long produced over much of Southwest Colorado, Northeast Arizona, Northwest New Mexico, and Southwest Utah. Developments noted for most of the Southern Colorado Plateau or Anasazi culture area most closely conform to sequences of developments defined for the Pecos Classification System which imply relatively similar changes in ceramics and other material culture from the Basketmaker III to the Pueblo III period (Kidder 1927).

Distinct trajectories of development, particularly for the decorated wares, can be used to define different branches of the Anasazi (Wilson in progress). The westernmost branch of the Anasazi reflect the very long sequence of related but diverse organic painted forms associated with the westernmost traditions of the Anasazi including the Tusayan, Little Colorado, Virgin Kayenta, and the organic painted series of the Chuska regional traditions. The north central branch reflects the long production of mineral painted forms, and then a shift to distinct organic painted types during the Pueblo II/Pueblo III transition associated with the Chaco series of the Cibola, the Mesa Verde, some periods and areas of the Upper San Juan, and in part with the Chuska tradition. The southernmost portion of the Colorado Plateau for which earlier sequences parallel that previously described for the north central branches, is later distinguished by the continuation of production of elaborately decorated forms decorated in mineral paint after the late Pueblo II period. The eastern most regions of this culture area are associated with a more conservative tradition of simply decorated organic painted forms that included the southern Upper San Juan and Gallina regions.

Related Branches