Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)Central AnasaziNorthern San JuanNorthern San Juan Red WareDeadmans Black-on-red

Type Name: Deadmans Black-on-red

Period: 880 A.D. - 1100 A.D.
Culture: Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)
Branch: Central Anasazi
Tradition: Northern San Juan
Ware: Northern San Juan Red Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2012

Deadmans Black-on-red was originally defined by Colton and Hargrave (1937) based on pottery in northern Arizona east of the Colorado River. This type was later revised to describe late red ware from the Northern San Juan or Mesa Verde region that had been earlier referred to as La Plata Black-on-red (Breternitz and others 1974). Deadmans Black-on-red as described here refers to the last type produced in the San Juan red ware sequence. This type appears to have been produced as early as the late ninth century into the later part of the eleventh century.

Deadmans Black-on-red is distinguished from other types defined for the Northern San Juan tradition by the addition of a red slip and later (Pueblo II) design styles (Breternitz 1974; Hayes and Lancaster 1975; Oppelt 1992; Reed 1958; Rohn 1977; Wilson and Blinman 1995). Bluff Black on red began to be replaced by Deadmans Black on red sometime after A.D. 880, and later forms of this type may be present in assemblages dating as late as A.D. 1100 (Wilson 1988). Details of the transition are poorly known due to the rarity of tenth century excavated and reported collections from southeastern Utah, but the differences between collections of examples assigned to this type from assemblages dating to the early and late part of the span assigned to this type are noticeable. Thin but distinct red slips are common in Deadmans Black on red, and they contrast significantly with the thinner slips occasionally found on Bluff Black on-red. The broader line work of early Bluff Black on red is replaced by the use of much finer lines, often in designs that are reminiscent of contemporary white ware design styles. This is a strong departure from Bluff Black on red and Abajo Red on orange designs where there are few similarities with contemporary white ware types. Vessel forms are dominated by bowls, but various jar forms are also present. Deadmans Black on red designs are also similar to Tusayan Black-on-red and Middleton Black-on-red of the Tsegi Orange Ware tradition, and appears to indicate a related sequence of northern Anasazi red ware style during the period of overlap between the two red ware traditions. Shared design elements include the use of bands filled with diagonal and squiggle hachure and the use of nested straight thin lines with attached triangles. The hachured bands are often arranged in all over designs (Dogoszhi style), while the nested parallel lines usually form rim-oriented or pendant designs. In rare examples, Deadmans Black on red vessels may have partial slips on unpainted surfaces (jar interiors and bowl exteriors).

Breternitz, David A., Arthur H. Rohn, Jr., and Elizabeth A. Morris
1974 Prehistoric Ceramics of the Mesa Verde Region. Museum of Northern Arizona Ceramic Series 5, Flagstaff.

Hayes, Alden C., and James A. Lancaster
1975 Badger House Community. Publications in Archeology 7E, Wetherill Mesa Studies. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Washington, D.C.

Oppelt, Norman T.
1992 Earth Water Fire: The Prehistoric Pottery of Mesa Verde. Johnson Books, Boulder.

Reed, Erik K.
1958 Excavation in Mancos Canyon, Colorado. University of Utah Anthropological Papers, No. 35, Salt Lake City.

Rohn, Arthur H.
1977 Cultural Change and Continuity on Chapin Mesa. Regents Press, Lawrence.

Wilson, C. Dean
1988 Appendix A, South Canal Ceramic Analysis. In Archaeological Investiga¬tions on South Canal, by Kristin A. Kuckelman and James N. Morris. Four Corners Archaeological Project Report Number 11. Report prepared by CASA for the US Bureau of Reclamation, Upper Colorado Region, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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, pp. 33-88. Colorado Council of Archaeologists Occasional Papers 2, Denver.

Related Photos

Deadmans Black-on-red bowl sherds

Deadmans Black-on-red seed jar

Deadmans Black-on-red bowl

Deadmans Black-on-red seed jar

Deadmans Black-on-red dipper

Deadmans Black-on-red bowl sherd

Deadmans Black-on-red sherds

Deadmans Black-on-red gourd jar