Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)Central AnasaziNorthern San JuanNorthern San Juan White WareWhite Mesa Black-on-white

Type Name: White Mesa Black-on-white

Period: 850 A.D. - 1000 A.D.
Culture: Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)
Branch: Central Anasazi
Tradition: Northern San Juan
Ware: Northern San Juan White Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2012

White Mesa Black-on-white was originally defined as a variety of Piedra Black-on-white by Hurst and others (1985). Pottery assigned to this category, however, exhibits styles and characteristics distinct from Piedra Black-on-white that are similar to Kana’a Black-on-white design styles (Wilson and Blinman 1995). Pottery assigned to this type is concentrated in the area of the western portion of the Mesa Verde region along Montezuma Creek (Southeastern Utah), and most examples appear to be decorated with organic pigment.

At the time of its description, White Mesa Black-on-white was believed to be contemporary with Piedra Black-on-white and variety status was appropriate. It now appears that White Mesa Black-on-white continued to be produced after A.D. 900, after Piedra Black-on-white was replaced by Cortez Black-on-white at sites to the east of Montezuma Creek, and thus formal type status appears to be warranted (Wilson and Blinman 1995). White Mesa Black-on-white is polished and sometimes slipped, and exhibits a blue-white surface color less variable than that noted for earlier white ware types. Painted decorations are executed in organic pigment in most cases, but some examples display a combination of organic binder underneath a thin fused mineral paint. Vessel forms are dominated by bowls, but jars, seed jars, and pitchers have been reported. Vessel rims are usually squared and solidly painted. Design styles and layouts more closely resemble those noted in Kana'a Black-on-white or Kiatuthlanna Black-on-white than Piedra Black-on-white. These designs are usually laid out in a band and consist of a series of thin framing lines with attached triangles that are often flagged or ticked. In contrast to Kana'a Black-on-white dots commonly fill spaces between fine framing lines. Secondary motifs such as appended dots and tick appear to be less common on White Mesa Black-on-white than Kana'a Black-on-white. Sherds of White Mesa Black-on-white have been identified in mid-ninth century collections and in association with early Mancos Black-on-white collections that probably date to about A.D. 1000.

Hurst, Winston, Mark Bond and Sloan E Schwindt
1985 Piedra Black-on-white, White Mesa Variety: Formal Description of Western Mesa Verde Anasazi Pueblo I White Ware Type, Pottery Southwest 34: 15-16.

Wilson, C. Dean, and Eric Blinman
1995 Ceramic Types of the Mesa Verde Region. In Archaeological Pottery of Colorado: Ceramic Clues to the Prehistoric and Protohistoric Lives of the State's Native Peoples, edited by R.H. Brunswig, B. Bradley, and S.M. Chandler. Colorado Council of Archaeologists Occasional Papers 2, Denver.

Related Photos

White Mesa Black-on-white bowl sherd

White Mesa Black-on-white bowl sherd

White Mesa Black-on-white bowl sherd