Ceramic Field Identification Manual
Agua Fria National Monument Project

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Gila Polychrome



DATES: A.D. 1300 to 1400


GEOGRAPHIC RANGE: The Mogollon Rim on the north, to the Mexican border on the south, and from Gila Bend on the west, into New Mexico and sporadically into Texas on the east (Haury 1945:63).

Gila Polychrome - DESCRIPTION

See Ware Desription

Surface Appearance: Variable depending on location, mainly 10 polishing patterns described by Crown (See Crown 1994).

Surface Color: Variable depending on firing. Usually a raspberry red, Munsell Soil Chart color 10R 4/6 (Doyel 1978:36, Crown 1994:44). Black and brown exterior color may be present from fire clouds and over-firing vessels (Doyel 1978:36).

Vessel Forms: 90 percent of the bowls have an oblate profile, while incurved and straight-walled bowls are also present. Around 20 percent of vessels are jars (Haury 1945:67, Crown 1994:45). Other vessel forms are ladles, mugs, and effigies (Haury 1945:66).

Rims: Straight (Doyel 1978:35).

Decoration and Paint: Mainly organic paint, probably beeweed (Cleome serrulata) with about three percent mineral based (Doyel 1978:36, Crown 1994:44). Tonto Basin produced the highest diversity of paint types (Crown 1994:44). Design on the interior of bowls covering most of the white pigment with black paint, but separated from rim by a band line sometimes referred to as a 'lifeline' (Haury 1945:73, Doyel 1978:35, Crary et al. 2001:409). The lifeline is always located immediately below the rim (Doyel 1978:35-36). The lifeline is either completed around the rim or has a broken line (Colton & Hargrave 1937:90, Lyons 2004:365). Designs are painted with wide and few brushstrokes that are always solid, with no hatching, no intricate interlocking scrolls, and few elaborations to the basic motifs (Crown 1994:86-87). Crown describes different designs and bandings in Chapter 9 in her book Ceramics & Ideology: Salado Polychrome Pottery. Common motifs are simple repeated shapes including triangles, squiggles, checkboards, terraces, pendant flags, hatching, interlocking scrolls, and dots (Haury 1945:73, Doyel 1978:35, Crown 1994:87). Design on exterior bowl occurs mostly on incurved bowls, in horizontal panels or as isolated elements or panels (Crown 1994:57, Crary et al. 2001:409).

Other Design Example: Figures

COMPARISON: Gila Polychrome is similar to Pinto Polychrome in design and region, but Gila has a broken lifeline (Colton & Hargrave 1937:90). Tonto Polychrome differs from Gila Polychrome in the use of red slip within the design and having more jars than bowls located at sitess (Colton & Hargrave 1937:90, Lyons 2004:336). Cliff Polychrome has painted decorations above the lifeline and a "...recurved, semi-flaring incurved and semi-flaring hemispherical rims" (Lyons 2004:366-367). Cliff Polychrome also differs from Gila Polychrome in lifeline location being lower with some form of rectilinear design applied to the rim above the line (Doyel 1978:35-36). Finally Los Muetros Polychrome incorporates the addition of narrow, red painted lines along the black paint.

REMARKS: Gila Polychrome is viewed as an evolutioin of Pinto Polychrome influenced by Tusayan-Kayenta/Jeddito pottery (Crown 1994, Crary et al. 2004:409). Gila Polychrome also named varieties such as "Gila interior/Tonto exterior" (Lyons 2004:364-365), Polychrome Red (Kidder 1924:107), Lower Gila Polychrome (Kidder 1924:113, Gladwin & Gladwin 1930:4-9), Early Middle Gila Polychrome, Middle Gila Polychrome, and Late Gila Polychrome (Hawley 1928).

Authored by: Diana Dunn

Authored by: 2005 NAU Ceramic Analysis class and Prof. Kelley Hays-Gilpin
Northern Arizona University - Anthropology Department

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