Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande ValleyNorthern Rio GrandeGreater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)Northern Rio Grande Gray WareNorthern Rio Grande Early Plain Gray

Type Name: Northern Rio Grande Early Plain Gray

Period: 700 A.D. - 1450 A.D.
Culture: Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande Valley
Branch: Northern Rio Grande
Tradition: Greater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)
Ware: Northern Rio Grande Gray Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2012

Northern Rio Grande Early Plain Gray refers here to utility wares with completely smoothed surfaces that may occur at sites in the Northern Rio Grande region dating to most prehistoric periods, although their relative frequency within ceramic assemblages changed significantly across components dating to different periods. Sherds derived from vessels with plain and unpolished exteriors are most common at sites dating prior to A.D. 1200 or after 1400. Gray wares exhibiting smoothed surfaces dominate assemblages dating from the beginning of ceramic production in Northern Rio Grande to the late twelfth century (McNutt 1969; Wilson 2005; 2010; 2013). By A.D. 1200, plain gray wares vessels were largely replaced by corrugated forms. The majority of plain gray wares from Early Developmental period sites in the Middle Rio Grande is tempered with sand and resembles pottery from regions to the west commonly assigned to Lino Gray.

Plain utility ware pottery from Late Developmental along the valley and drainages of the Northern Rio Grande region are tempered with micaceous granite. The mica is clearly visible on the surface, but should not be confused with later plain "micaceous" utility ware types that reflect the use of highly micaceous self-tempered clays are the application of powdered mica as a slip (Warren 1979). While plain ware forms from Northern Rio Grande sites have been assigned to Lino Gray, the use of this type should be limited to plain gray wares exhibiting sand temper and white pastes that were common Early Developmental sites in the Middle Rio Grande region as well as much of the Colorado Plateau. In assemblages from sites north of Santa Fe, the extremely rare occurrence of plain gray wares exhibiting white paste and large sand temper are assumed to be non-local, originating in either the Cibola region of the Colorado and Middle Rio Grande regions. Plain gray body sherds may be derived from vessels with plain surfaces or from the lower portion of neck banded or corrugated vessels. Rim sherds that appear to have derived from completely smoothed vessels were classified as Plain Gray Rim. Examinations of plain vessels and rim sherds indicate a derivation from a very wide range of vessel forms including wide mouth jars, ollas, bowls, ladles, pitchers, as well as other vessel forms. Vessels also tend to be relatively small, although the range of sizes is fairly diverse

McNutt, Charles H.
1969 Early Puebloan Occupations at Tesuque By-Pass and in the Upper Rio Grande Valley. Anthropological Paper No.40. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Warren, A. Helene
1979 The Micaceous Pottery of the Rio Grande. In Collected Papers in Honor of Erik Kellerman Reed, edited by A. H. Schroeder, pp. 148–166. Papers of the Archaeological Society, 6. Albuquerque Archaeological Society Press, Albuquerque.

Wilson, C. Dean

2005 Ceramic Artifacts. In Excavations at LA 103919, a Developmental Period Site Near Nambé Pueblo, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, by S. L. Lentz, pp. 89–150. Archaeology Notes, 199. Office of Archaeological Studies, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe.

2010 Pena Blanca Ceramics. In Excavations Along NM 22: Agricultural Adaptation from ad 500 to 1900 in the Northern Santo Domingo Basin, Sandoval County, New Mexico, compiled by S. L. Post and R. C. Chapman, pp. 13–144. Archaeology Notes, 385. Office of Archaeological Studies, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe.

2013 Prehistoric Pottery from Pojoaque Corridor Project Sites. In Land Use, Settlement, and Community in the Southern Tewa Basin, Vol. 3: The Prehistoric Sites and Site Components, edited by J. Boyer and J. Moore. Archaeology Notes, 404. Office of Archaeological Studies, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe.

Related Photos

NRG Plain Gray jar sherds

NRG Plain Gray jar sherd

NRG Plain Gray jar sherd