Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)Central AnasaziNorthern San JuanNorthern San Juan Red Ware

Ware Name: Northern San Juan Red Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2012

Northern San Juan or Mesa Verde Red Wares reflect distinct decorated pottery forms produced from the Early Pueblo I to Middle Pueblo II periods. These red wares are unique among the Mesa Verde pottery wares in that there is a strong but circumstantial argument for regionally specialized production (Blinman 1983; Hegmon 1995; Hegmon and others 1997; Lucius and Breternitz 1981; Oppelt 2001). Throughout the period of San Juan Red Ware production, contemporary collections of ceramics include increasing proportions of red ware sherds from east to west across the region. For example, only small percentages of red ware sherds are present in A.D. 780s sites in the Animas River valley; collections from contemporary sites in the Dolores area can have 8 to 10 percent red ware sherds; and the contemporary site of Alkali Ridge in southeastern Utah has as much as 25 percent red ware sherds. This trend in abundance characterizes all of the San Juan Red Ware types and has led to the assumption that southeastern Utah was the principal source of San Juan Red Ware vessels. Further evidence of distinct production are indicated by both the distinct resources and design styles noted for contemporaneous Mesa Verde red and white ware types on the same sites (Hegmon 1995). Mesa Verde Red Ware vessels are thin and well formed. Surfaces are usually orange to red, although those in misfired examples may be buff or gray in color. Gray cores are often present, and may indicate the use of carbonaceous gray clays that are high in iron content. Variability in paste characteristics both between and within assemblages appears to be significantly less than that observed for other wares, and is additional evidence for regional specialization. Sherds almost always fire to the same reddish orange color when exposed to oxidizing conditions. Temper is almost always crushed igneous rock, although sandstone and sherd temper is present in rare examples.

Related Types