Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande ValleySouthern Rio GrandeRio AbajoRio Abajo White WareElmendorf Black-on-white

Type Name: Elmendorf Black-on-white

Period: 1100 A.D. - 1275 A.D.
Culture: Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande Valley
Branch: Southern Rio Grande
Tradition: Rio Abajo
Ware: Rio Abajo White Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2013

The name Elmendorf Black-on-white seems to have been informally suggested by Peckham, Warren and Wilson in reference to the pottery from LA 406, the type site for Casa Colorado Black-on-white (Wiseman 1995). Other references to this type appear to be limited to a brief description of the dominant white wares from sites assigned by Marshall and Wait (1984) to the Elmendorf phase of the Rio Abajo region and a description by Wiseman (1995). Elmendorf Black-on-white is the dominant type associated with the Late Elmendorf phase, which is thought to date from about A.D. 1100 to 1300. This type is distinguished from earlier types by the decorations in organic paint (Marshall Wait 1984; Wiseman 1995). This type is poorly known, and Mera (1935) seems to have overlooked organic painted pottery in the sequence of white wares he defined for the southernmost areas of the Rio Grande (Wiseman 1995). Characteristics described for Elmendorf Black-on-white are similar to those described for and used to define Casa Colorado Black-on-white (Mera 1935) with the exception of decorations in mineral rather than organic pigment, and it possible that Mera's description of this type actually refers to pottery described here as Elmendorf Black-on-white (Wiseman 2014). This type also seems to be related to Socorro Black-on-white and Chupadero Black-on-white although the use of organic paint may reflect influences from regions to the north on existing Southern Rio Grande pottery recipes. Such shifts may have been similar to patterns suggested for other regions of the Rio Grande such of the one that may be reflected by the shift from Kwahe'e to Santa Fe Black-on-white in areas to the north (Wilson 2013). One possibilty is that in some areas of the Rio Abajo region that Elmendorf Black-on-white may have either developed into or influenced the development of Magdelena Black-on-white. An alternative explanation for the origin Magdelena Black-on-white is that it reflects migration from groupd abandoning the Northrn San Juan or Mesa Verde region, and is discussed the description of Magdelena Black-on-white presented in this web-site by Toni Lambaugh. The nature, orign, and significance of Pueblo III period organic painted white wares in the Rio Abajo country and associated drainages represents an unresolve issue that certainly will require more data and study.

Temper noted for Elmendorf Black-on-white consists of crushed sherd sometimes associated with crushed rock. Decorated surfaces are sometimes not slipped, but they may be covered with thick white uneven slip which is often faded and streaked Polish ranges from none to well-polished. Vessel forms include moderately deep and deep bowls, olla style jars and effigies(Wiseman 1995). Sherds derived from ollas, that appear similar to those noted for Chupadero Black-on-white, are relatively common. Designs are executed in an organic paint which is often gray, thin, and faded. Quality of execution varies although designs are often very sloppy. Designs occur on broad similar to those noted for Chupadero, Socorro, and Reserve Black-on-white. While most examples represent solid designs, including stepped triangles, lines, and ticked lines, hatched elements may occur. When hatched designs are present, they usually occur along with opposing solid designs.

Marshall, Michael P., and Henry J. Walt
1984 Rio Abajo: Prehistory and History of a Rio Grande Province. New Mexico Historic Preservation Program, 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.

Wiseman Regge N.

1995 The Belen Bridge Site and the Late Elemendorf Phase of Central New Mexico. Museum of New Mexico, Archaeology Notes 137, Santa Fe.

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

Elmendorf Black-on-white sherds

Elmendorf bowl sherds

Elmendorf Black-on-white effigy vessel