Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande ValleySouthern Rio GrandeRio Abajo

Tradition Name: Rio Abajo

First posted by C. Dean Wilson

The Rio Abajo region refers to the southernmost areas of the Rio Grande region, as defined here, known to have been historically occupied by Piro-speaking groups. This area included parts of the region defined as the Socorro district. The definition and boundaries postulated for the Rio Abajo region are based on a survey by Marshall and Walt (1984) that spanned from areas just north of the confluence of the Rio Grande and Puerco River, south to its confluence with Milligan Gulch. It is likely that pottery and other traits defined for the Rio Abajo have a wider distribution than indicated by this survey, covering many of the areas associated with tributaries that flow into this segment of the Rio Grande.

Pottery from this region is dominated by utility wares exhibiting traits sometimes used to define Pitoche Brown Ware types (Mera 1935), and thus the Rio Abajo has sometimes been included with regions defined for the Mogollon wares. White ware types are reflected by a long progression of distinctive forms that include pottery assigned to San Marical Black-on-white, Red Mesa Black-on-white, Socorro Black-on-white, Elmendorf Black-on-white, and possibly Magdelana Black-on-white. Glaze ware types dominate later assemblages and are assigned here to types described for other Rio Grande Glaze ware. Glaze ware forms from the Rio Abajo may differ from those produced in other regions by the common presence of vitric basalt temper (Shepard 1944). Other characteristics indicative of late forms are noted in a brief description of a Socorro Late Variant glaze ware that notes slight differences in slip and rims shapes in glaze pottery produced in the southernmost areas of the Rio Grande (Shepard 1942).

Related Wares