Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande ValleyNorthern Rio GrandeGreater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)Northern Rio Grande Micaceous Utility Ware

Ware Name: Northern Rio Grande Micaceous Utility Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2013

Historic micaceous pottery types reflect the utilization of distinct technologies and clays in the production of certain utility ware forms (Eiselt 2005). Micaceous pottery is distinguished from other utility ware by relative heavy concentrations of mica over an unpolished surface. During the historic period, this effect was usually achieved through the application of powdered mica as a slip on at least one surface, but similar affects were also achieved by the use of highly micaceous residual clays. Micaceous utility wares produced during the historic period can ultimately be traced to gray ware technologies long utilized in the Rio Grande region (Warren 1978). Forms usually considered to be true micaceous wares may have been first produced during the Classic period (Anderson 1999; Warren 1979). By the seventeenth century, micaceous utility wares were produced at localities over much of central and northern New Mexico by potters associated with a number of different ethnic groups (Warren 1979). Micaceous utility ware seems to have been produced by potters of Tewa and Tiwa Pueblo (Adler and Dick 1999; Anderson 1999; Warren 1979), Hispanic or Genizaro (Carrillo 1997; Dick 1968; Levine 1990) and Jicarilla Apachean (Brugge 1983; Gunnerson 1969; Woolsey and Olinger 1990) affiliation. Micaceous pottery from historic contexts has often been assigned to different types based on the location of recovery and assumptions regarding the identity of the potters thought to have made different pottery forms (Eiselt 2005; 2006; Eiselt and Ford 2007; Warren1979). While detailed resource based characterizations indicates that it is sometimes possible to identify pottery produced by different ethnic groups (Eiselt and Ford 2007), such distinctions seem to be extremely difficult to impossible to make during the normal analysis of pottery assemblages. To avoid confusion resulting from these assumptions, micaceous types are placed here into descriptive types based on combinations of paste characteristics and surface manipulations observable during most analysis although an attempt is made elsewhere in this document to define micaceous types potentially produced by Jicarilla Apache potters. This approach does not imply that the previously defined micaceous types are not useful, and is hoped that the descriptions presented here will provide a forum to better classify historic micaceous types.

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