Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande ValleyNorthern Rio GrandeGreater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)Northern Rio Grande White WareWiyo Black-on-white

Type Name: Wiyo Black-on-white

Period: 1250 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 White Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2012

Wiyo Black-on-white was originally described and referred to as "biscuitoid" (Kidder and Amsden 1931), and later named and further described by Mera (1935). This type consists of forms exhibiting characteristics transitional between Santa Fe Black-on-white and early biscuit ware types.

Wiyo Black-on-white is similar to Santa Fe Black-on-white, but it is distinguished by softer pastes and surfaces that range from light tan, brown, to greenish-gray (Habichit-Mauche 1993; Stubbs and Stallings 1953). Cores are rare, although there is a slight degradation in paste color which tends to be darker in exteriors and lighter to brown on interiors. Pastes tends to break along an even plain, although it sometimes seems to be softer and lower fired than Santa Fe Black-on-white. This type is consistently tempered with fine crushed angular tuff fragments similar to that noted for later forms of Santa Fe Black-on-white. Black particles that sometimes occur in Santa Fe Black-on-white tend to be conspicuous if not more common in Wiyo Black-on-white. The temper is also similar to that noted in Biscuit Ware types, although the range of tuff fragments tends not to be as fine or dense. Forms are usually represented by bowls that tend to be wide and deep, although jars, dippers, and other forms have been noted in low frequencies. Interior bowl surfaces are usually well-polished and tend to be evenly smoothed and highly polished sometimes resulting in a greasy appearance. Both slipped and unslipped forms are relatively common. When present slips are often thin and indiscrete. Bowl exteriors are seldom slipped or polished, but tend to be smoother than bowl exteriors of Santa Fe Black-on-white. The walls of vessels are usually even in thickness and tend to be slightly thicker than noted in Santa Fe Black-on-white.

Decorations are usually dense, dark, and well executed as compared to Santa Fe Black-on-white. Rims decorations are relatively common, and include ticks, dots, and lines, and may be present in as much as 40% of the Wiyo Black-on-white rims sherds in some assemblages. Rims tend to be rounded or flat, although flared rims become more common during the early Classic period. Designs styles and layouts are similar to those described for Santa Fe Black on-white, with paneled bands dominating. These designs are often organized under a single broad framing line. Solid designs tend to be more common and lines are thicker than on Santa Fe Black. Designs commonly exhibit bilateral symmetry, similar to that common in early biscuit and glaze ware types.

Wiyo Black-on-white was over a fairly long period and occurs in assemblages dating from the mid thirteenth to the mid fifteenth century (Wiseman 2014). This type tends to be rare in the earlier part of this span, but may be more common in assemblages dating from A.D. 1300 to 1375 (Smiley and others 1953; Sundt 1987). While pottery exhibiting Wiyo-like characteristics occurs over a wide area of the Northern and Middle Rio Grande (Wiseman 2014), late forms assigned to this type appear to be most common and distinct in areas of the northern Tewa Basin and southern Chama valley and pottery from this area assigned to this type represent one of several late regional variants of Santa Fe Black-on-white (Habicht- Mauche 1993; Wilson 2013).

The utilization of the criteria discussed here to define and separate Wiyo Black-on-white from other types can both be a useful and insightful as well as sometimes very frustrating endeavor. At its best the documentation of this type seem provides evidence of gradual changes in technologies and decorations of ceramic vessels that occurred in the Northern Rio Grande region during the Late Coalition and Early Classic period.

Kidder, Alfred V., and Anna O. Sherpard
1936 The Pottey of Peocs, Volume II Glaze Paint, Culinary, and Other Wares. Papers of the Phillips Academy No.7, New Haven.

Habicht-Mauche, Judith A.
1993 The Pottery from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Tribalization and Trade in the Northern Rio Grande. Arroyo Hondo Archaeological Series Vol. 8. School of American Research Press, Santa Fe.

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

Smiley, Terah L., Stanley A. Stubbs, and Bryant Bannister
1953 A Foundation for the Dating of Some Late Archaeological Sites in the Rio Grande Area, New Mexico: Based on Studies in Tree-Ring Methods and Pottery Analysis. Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research Bulletin No. 6. University of Arizona, Tucson.

Stubbs, Stanley A., and W. S. Stallings, Jr.
1953 The Excavation of Pindi Pueblo, New Mexico. Monographs of the School of American Research and the Laboratory of Anthropology No. 18. Santa Fe.

Sundt, William A.
1987 Pottery of Central New Mexico and its Role as Key to Both Time and Space. In Secrets of a City: Papers on Albuquerque Area Archeology, In Honor of Richard A. Rice, edited by A. A.V. Poore and J Montgomery, pp. 116-147. The Archaeological Society of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe.

Wiseman Regge N.
2014 Introduction to Mera’s “Ceramic Clues to the Prehistory of North Central New Mexico. In Since Mera: The Original Eleven Bulletins, With Essays and Opinions Derived from Recent Research, edited by E. J Brown, R. N. Wiseman and Rory P. Gauthier, pp 197-223. Archaeological Society of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Wilson, C. Dean
2013 The Gradual Development of Systems of Pottery Production and Distribution Across Northern Rio Grande Landscapes. In From Mountaintop to Valley Bottom; Understanding Past Land Use in the Northern Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico, edited by Bradley J. Vierra, pp 161-197. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

Related Photos

Wiyo Black-on-white bowl sherds

Wiyo Black-on-white partial bowl

Wiyo Black-on-white bowl sherds

Wiyo Black-on-white bowl

Wiyo Black-on-white partial bowl

Wiyo Black-on-white jar

Wiyo Black-on-white bowl