Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande ValleySouthern Rio GrandeRio AbajoPitoche Brown Ware

Ware Name: Pitoche Brown Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2014, Updated 2016.

Pitoche Brown Ware pottery is part of a larger Mogollon Brown Ware tradition indicative of pottery forms known to have been long-produced over wide areas of the southern portion of the Pueblo Southwest. Pitoche Brown Ware was originally defined by Mera (1935) as the dominant utility ware type for his “Southern Division”. Types indicative of the distinct sequence of pottery forms known to have been long produced in this area are sometimes included with the Rio Abajo tradition or Albuquerque and Socorro districts (Lang 1982; Marshall and Walt 1984). A similar combination of pottery types has sometimes been included under the label Los Lunas Brown Wares (Hill and Larson 1995) or Los Lunas Plain and Corrugated Wares (Franklin and Murrell 2010). This includes utility ware pottery originally described by Mera (1935) as Pitoche Rubbed and Los Luna Smudged as well as other categories defined for Pitoche Brown Ware types based on variations in surface and textured treatments (Dyer 2008). The area over which Pitoche Brown Ware types occur overlaps, although it is not identical to that noted for the distribution of Socorro Black-on-white (Lang 1982; Dittert 1959; Dyer 2008).

Pottery assigned here to Pitoche Brown Ware types tends to exhibit dark gray to black pastes that are sometime brown with a reddish streak. Surface are usually dark gray to black but can sometimes be brown to reddish. At least one surface is usually polished. Pastes are soft silty and tend to crumble when broken. Pastes tend to fire to similar reddish colors in controlled oxidized atmospheres that are common in clay sources occurring along the Rio Grande alluvium. Temper noted in the great majority of Pitoche Brown Ware sherds examined appears to reflect the long-term utilization of granitic rock or sands (Hill 1994; Hill and Larson 1995). Aplastics are dominated by slightly lustrous white, gray, and pinkish feldspar and quartz fragments that may include small and sparse hornblende crystals. Other fragments commonly associated with this temper include clear sub-rounded quartz and black hornblende particles occurring in varying frequencies. These particles exhibit significant variation in size and usually tend to be larger than those associated with brown ware pottery from the Mogollon Highlands, but are usually smaller than those noted in crushed granitic temper sometimes occurring in gray ware types. This combination of characteristics noted for paste clay and temper associated with Pitoche Brown Ware types strongly suggests local production of a distinct combination of brown ware vessels using high iron clays and granitic sand temper sources that were probably distributed along wide-spread alluvial deposits. Brown wares with similar temper were probably produced at households scattered across the Middle Rio Grande and Rio Abajo areas.

Pottery exhibiting characteristics indicative of Pitoche Brown Ware types exhibit a relatively wide range of surface characteristics. This includes variably polished and smudged surfaces as well as a range of surface textures including well executed fine plain and indented corrugated treatments similar to that noted in Mogollon Brown Ware types dominating assemblages found in sites spread across the Mogollon Highlands to the west. This variation resulted in the assignment of Pitoche Brown Ware sherds to a number of descriptive groupings based on surface texture similar to those noted and illustrated by Dyer including Pitoche Brown plain and textured types and well as Los Lunas Smudged Brown.

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