Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)Central AnasaziChaco and CibolaCibola-Tusayan Gray WareObelisk Utility

Type Name: Obelisk Utility

Period: 400 A.D. - 700 A.D.
Culture: Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)
Branch: Central Anasazi
Tradition: Chaco and Cibola
Ware: Cibola-Tusayan Gray Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2013

Obelisk Gray was defined by Colton (1955), for which a subset of that pottery includes Obelisk Utility as defined here. Obelisk Utility refers to early pottery forms produced in the Cibola as well as areas of Tusayan regions that appear to be transitional between Mogollon plain brown wares and early Anasazi gray ware forms (Morris 1980; Reed and others 1998; Reed and others 2000). An example of a brwon ware seed jar with a simple design executed in organic paint has been illustrated as Oblisk Black-on-tan (WWW.Rarepottery.Info Tusayan Gray Ware) and suppports a direct transition from early brown wares such as Obelisk Utility to the earliest white wares. I think the early date (A.D. 500 to 600) attributed to this vessel, that was interpretted as reflecting among the earliest painted yet identified, is likely to be correct. Further documentation and description of similar pottery is certainly needed and may provide important clues concerning the nature of the transition to painted white wares in the Tusayan Region.

Obelisk Gray is distinguished from other early polished or "plain brown ware" types by the presence of added sand or sand temper rather than natural silt of volcanic inclusions characteristic of many other early plain ware types. This type is distinguished from Lino Gray and other early gray ware types by the presence of at least one polished surface that often is bumpy and unevenly polished and striations and streaks are common on the surface. Surfaces and paste color is highly variable ranging from light gray, dark gray, buff, brown, to orange in color. Pastes tend to be slightly more silty and friable than that noted in later plain gray ware types. In some cases, the variability in paste color and textures has resulted in assignments of some examples of this type to Obelisk Gray and other examples to Obelisk Brown. Such assignments may sometimes useful but may also obscure the transitional nature of this technology. Vessels are commonly represented by necked jars and seed jars and are similar to those noted in the earliest gray ware types. Bowls are present but may be more rare than that noted for contemporary brown ware types. Vessel forms tend to be small and thick relatively to size compared to similar forms noted in later gray ware types

Colton, Harold S.
1955 Pottery Types of the Southwest No. 3A and 3B. Museum of Northern Arizona Ceramic Series, Flagstaff.

Morris Elizabeth A.
1980 Basketmaker Caves in the Prayer rock District, Notheastern the Prayer Rock District, North-eastern Arizona. Anthropological Papers of the Uiversity of Arizona no.36. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Reed, Lori S., Joell Goff, and Kathy Niles Hensler
1998 Exploring Ceramic Production, Distribution, and Exchange in the Southern Chuska Valley: Analytical Results from the El Paso Natural Gas North Expansion Project, Pipeline Archaeology 1990-1993: The El Paso Natural Gas System Expansion Project, New Mexico and Arizona, Vol XI, Book 1, Report no, WCRM (F)74, Farmington.

Reed, Lori C., Dean Wilson, and Kelley Hays-Gilipin
2000 From Brown to Gray; The Origins of Ceramic Technology in the Northen Southwest. In Foundations of Anasazi Culture: The Basketmaker-Pueblo Transition, edited by P.F. Reed, pp. 19-45. The University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

Related Photos

Obelisk Utility bowl

Obelisk Utility jar

Obelisk Utility seed jar sherds