Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)Eastern (Mountain) AnasaziUpper San JuanUpper San Juan White WareRosa Black-on-white

Type Name: Rosa Black-on-white

Period: 700 A.D. - 875 A.D.
Culture: Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)
Branch: Eastern (Mountain) Anasazi
Tradition: Upper San Juan
Ware: Upper San Juan White Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2012

Rosa Black-on-white was named by Mera (1935) and described by Hall (1944). Rosa Black-on-white is the dominant white ware type associated with Rosa phase sites in the Upper San Juan region (Hall 1944; Reed and Goff 2007; Wilson 1993). Most sites with Rosa Black-on-white date to the eighth century, although this type may occur at sites dating as late as A.D. 875. This type resembles Chapin Black-on-white and Piedra Black-on-white, but displays distinctive temper, paint, surfaces, and design styles. Rosa Black-on-white is present in ceramic collections from the Navajo Reservoir, Gobernador, and Durango areas. Sherds from the Durango area exhibiting characteristics described for Rosa Black-on-white have sometimes been assigned to Northern San Juan tradition types such as Chapin Black-on-white and Piedra Black-on-white (Carlson 1963; Ellwood 1980; Wilson 1988). Differences between Rosa Black-on-white and contemporaneous Northern San Juan tradition types have been noted and used to place them into a Durango Variety (Carlson 1982; Wilson 1988), or Animas Tract (Lucius 1982). Decorated surfaces are slightly polished, although a low frequency is unpolished.

Surfaces of pottery assigned to Rosa Black-on-white are never slipped. Surface color tends to be white to light gray. Paste color is similar to that observed in contemporary gray wares, although the range tends to be lighter, usually white, light gray to gray. Rosa Black-on-white sherds are less likely to fire to reddish colors in an oxidation atmosphere than are Rosa phase gray wares. Temper is variable and may include a light colored crushed leucocratic igneous rock such as granite, coarse granitic sand, fine sand, and sandstone. Some vessels exhibit basket impressions on base exteriors. About a quarter of Rosa Black-on-white sherds exhibit a fugitive red coating. Bowls are by far the dominant vessel form for Rosa Black-on-white, and jars are present in extremely low frequencies. The most distinctive characteristic of Rosa Black-on-white as compared to other early types produced in surrounding regions is the presence of either a glaze or washy organic paint. Rosa Black-on-white vessels produced in the Durango area appear to have been decorated with a glaze pigment that may be green, greenish-black, black, red, or yellow. This glaze paint is characterized by a thick, glossy sheen. Both paint color and degree of sheen may vary significantly on a given vessel or sherd. The glaze paint is presumed to have resulted from the use of a ground lead ore, examples of which have been recovered from several Rosa phase contexts. The organic paint recorded for many Rosa Black-on-white sherds may sometimes be the remnants of an organic binder where the glaze paint has failed to fuse and the mineral portion has eroded off. This is evident on a number of vessels where some areas have well-preserved glaze pigments and others display a washy organic paint. The great majorities of Rosa Black-on-white vessels from most areas of the Upper San Juan region type shows no evidence of glaze and seem to have been executed in pure organic pigment. Rims are usually painted but may be unpainted.

Designs are simple, bold, and often sloppily executed. Lines are usually uneven, probably as a result of the limitations of the pigments employed. Rosa Black-on-white design styles are often intermediate between Basketmaker III and Pueblo I types from other regions. For example, Rosa Black-on-white vessels often contain a combination of characteristics noted in Chapin Black-on-white and Piedra Black-on-white of the Northern San Juan tradition. As is the case for Basketmaker III types from other regions, the painted design is often divided into two or three unconnected units oriented toward the rim. Each unit is usually composed of a combination of several simple elements. Design elements include triangles, circles, dots, thick lines, curved lines, crossed lines, and bent lines. Many of these lines are ticked or flagged. Elements derived from basket stitches, common on Basketmaker III types such as Chapin Black-on-white, are extremely rare in Rosa Black-on-white. Some Rosa Black-on-white vessels display a more complex orientation, with the designs organized in a single band or an all-over pattern that is more common in later forms. In addition to the elements found near the rim, circles, which may or may not contain additional embellishment, are often present in the center of bowls.

Carlson, Roy L.
1963 Basketmaker III Sites Near Durango, Colorado. University of Colorado Studies in Anthropology 8. University of Colorado Museum, Boulder.

Ellwood , Priscilla B.
1980 Ceramics of Durango South. In The Durango South Project: Archaeological Salvage of Two Late Basketmaker III Sites in the Durango District, edited by John D. Gooding, pp 78-102. Anthropology Papers of the University of Arizona 34. Tucson, Arizona.

Hall, Edward T. Jr.
1944 Early Stockaded Settlements in the Gobernador, New Mexico. Columbia Studies in Archaeology and Ethnology Vol. II, Part I. New York.

Lucius, William A.
1982 Ceramic analysis. In Testing and Excavation Reports: Mapco's Rocky Mountain Liquid Hydrocarbons Pipeline, Southwestern Colorado Vol 2, edited by Jerry E. Fetterman and Linda Honeycutt, pp. 7.1-7.2. Woodward-Clyde Consultants, San Francisco.

Mera, H. P.
1935 Ceramic Clues to the Prehistory of North Central New Mexico. Laboratory of Anthropology Technical Series Bulletin No. 8. Santa Fe.

Reed, Lori and Joel Goff
2007 A Field Guide to Upper San Juan Anasazi and Navajo Pottery. Prepared for the NMAC Ceramic Workshop, Farmington District Office, Document on file, Bureau of Land Management, Farmington.

Wilson, C. Dean
1988 Ceramics. In Archaeological Investigations in the Bodo Canyon Area La Plata County, by Steven L. Fuller, pp. 317-333. UMTRA Archaeological Report 25. Complete Archaeological Service Associates, Cortez.

Wilson, C. Dean, and Eric Blinman
1993 Upper San Juan Ceramic Typology. Office of Archaeological Studies Archaeology Notes 80, Santa Fe.

Related Photos

Rosa Black-on-white bowl sherds

Rosa Black-on-white bowl

Rosa Black-on-white bowl

Rosa Black-on-white bowl

Rosa Black-on-white bowls

Rosa Black-on-white jars and bowls

Rosa Black-on-white bowl

Rosa Black-on-white bowl